Nov 13

When You and Your Avatar Become One

What if you could live inside the world of your favorite show?

Do we really need to care about a world where some entities are human, and others are digital?  What would this world mean?

If we look at it in evolutionary terms, we only need to care if digital humans are a threat to our survival. For example, if we can no longer trade labor for the currency we need to purchase basic goods like food, then we will not be able to survive. In that scenario, we will be in conflict with the digital humans.

But if the digitals are only our ‘servants’ doing all the things we do not want to do, then the existence of these ‘helpers’ will proliferate.

And then what about if we ourselves do not really want to interact with humans, can we send a digital in our place?

What will it look like in the near future to be human and an avatar? Will your avatar be an exact digital rendering of you? Or can you customize it to look how you really want to look? You know – thin, sexy and beautiful.

These are questions you will need an answer for much sooner than you think. In 2013, a Russian billionaire revealed his plans to become immortal by 2045 by uploading his brain into a hologram body.  The idea is the computerized version of your brain matches with a hologram rendering of your body, and you live forever. To make this work, you should leave very specific instructions about how you want ‘future you’ to function. (If you want to know how this works out when everyone can do it, check out my fiction book The Unbroken Line).

Before we get there, how about living as an avatar in an online world that mirrors our own world. This was the idea behind Second Life – which still exists. An online game where you can create an avatar and operate it in the virtual world. But of course, you have to be present to play along.

So what about using artificial intelligence to ‘live’ without human control as an avatar. This is the hybrid between your controlled Second Life style avatar and your hologram body. In this land you can put your avatar on ‘auto-pilot’ by uploading your social media feed, or another digital reflection of who ‘you’ are – maybe videos – and let the avatar go. The A.I. would manage basic concepts like saying ‘hello’ to someone who said ‘hello’ to you, or running away from a (digital) grizzly bear. You could intervene when necessary or just watch your avatar navigate its own way.

How much time would people spend in this rendered world? Probably hours. Especially if the game became an extension of social media. Instead of posting to your friends, you could have a virtual town hall where all your friend avatars show up and get your updates. You could leave your trip photos running in a room of your house where your friends could come by and view them anytime – with commentaries. The scope is endless. Attending an online class would put the information directly into your ‘brain’ to be re-used in the real world whenever you need it.

Why do we want any of this? Because it’s entertainment. Because we love the idea of immortality. Of course there may also be tangible social benefits, but we do not know what those might be at this point.

There is also the commercial potential. Every store, and product, could be present in the rendered world. You as an avatar would be able to see everything you may ever be interested in buying. Even try it out in a simulated world. Of course the processing capabilities required for this could also be limiting, but once it gets up and running there will likely be no way to stop it.

If you want to understand how it could go wrong, and the kinds of questions we’ll be looking to answer in the future, I have a new romance future tech suspense thriller series called Ravencross by E. Avalon. The first three books – Embrace, Triumph and Whisper – are out now. Each book is a romance wrapped in a thriller with the future tech thrown in-between. The idea is the cast, crew and fans of a popular daytime drama become dangerously, and obsessively involved with each other while playing an A.I. enhanced online game based on the show. You can check out the books here.

DiAnd as soon as you finish reading, begin preparing to organize your digital information into the compartmentalized order your future fake brain will need to keep you going long after ‘you’ are gone.