On the day of death, most humans know whether or not they have ended their biological line’s existence on earth. If the departed passes with no biological children (and none on the way), and no stored reproductive DNA, an unbroken line ends irreversibly. At that point, the opportunity to continue to genetically and psychologically influence the lives of others is over, the once-in-a-lifetime window to prolong a 3.8 billion year process, gone forever. The finality is absolute. Or is it?
In the digital age, the ability to maintain a tethered connection to the physical world continues to be a vibrant possibility. Our daily life online captures a record of activities statically sent to us, and a steady stream of our responses. The words we choose to answer a text, the order and timing in which we view programming on our ‘Watch List,’ the brands purchased when shopping, the names and nicknames in our contact list, our website surfing history and more. In the future, if all of that data could be aggregated, joined together, programmed “to think” about what our next action would be based on our past action, then would we ever die?
Our aggregated data would become our new brain, a simulated conscience, or simcon as the term is used in The Unbroken Line. Our physical presence would be a digital facsimile, a next generation walking, talking, dancing, crying hologram. The world to imagine is one where, upon preparing your last will and testament, you remember to designate who will take control of your simcon and manage your ongoing existence. When you consider the information a simcon will hold, you would have to consider only the most trust-worthy and sensitive individual to take control.
As described in The Unbroken Line: the simcon, or simulated conscience data application, utilized the entire digital record of a human’s existence, all of the online presence that had been updated, recorded, photographed, videoed or otherwise saved in any server or digital storage facility in the world throughout the individual’s lifetime, to recreate a functioning individual as a hologram that could interact with living people. The application software simulated the deceased human’s verbal consciousness by aggregating and indexing the existing data records to generate new conversations or text responses from the once living human to the physical world. On its own, the simcon app worked like an interactive recorder. But the truly immersive experience with the deceased, came from the realistic life-size hologram, generated by utilizing online photos and videos to create a three-dimensional image of the individual incorporating all digitally stored gestures, facial expressions and movements specific to the recorded unique body. The deceased’s friends and loved ones could not only have a conversation, but also see a visual of the person continuously in their presence, as if the departed had never left. Together the hologram, with the simcon as its communication app performing as the human’s brain, answered questions, engaged in conversations, laughed, cried, acted and reacted to the living humans around it as any other human would.
In The Unbroken Line, this functionality provides the characters with a new challenge prompted by The Network. But in a future where the technology is readily available, it may not be living humans’ desire to keep their loved ones alive that will be the focus of society’s challenges, but the government and legal system’s ability to keep up with the functionality’s capabilities.
To begin with the possibilities, consider these QUESTIONS and your current responses. We will return to these issues over the next few months.
NOTE: the terms simcon and hologram are used inter-changeably to refer to the full functionality of a digital human
Could a simcon hologram be left alone to care for an infant?
Could a hologram work and earn money, holding an employment position in competition with physical human beings?
Can a hologram use educational facilities and continue to learn?
Could a hologram obtain credit for innovation in the workplace?
If the hologram invented a new product, did it hold the legal rights to it, or does the hologram’s designated recipient?
Could the hologram be promoted and hired for new jobs?
Holograms did not need a separate seat, but could humans project their holograms and have conversations with them on airline flights? Would the images be too disruptive to other passengers?
Could a hologram even be owned? Was it right to use that terminology?
Did the deceased maintain the rights to their own data profiles?
If a complete stranger fell in love with a hologram, and it responded, did that person now have a claim on the simcon? Could they be married in a church ceremony?
And should the projection with a complete data record of a human’s conscience, even be called a hologram?
Although physical beings could literally walk right through the image, was it not, in some form, human?