Digital immortality

Digital immortality (or "virtual immortality") is the hypothetical concept of storing (or transferring) a person's personality in more durable media, i.e., a computer. The result might look like an avatar behaving, reacting, and thinking like a person on the basis of that person's digital archive.[1][2][3][4] After the death of the individual, this avatar could remain static or continue to learn and develop autonomously.

A considerable portion of transhumanists and singularitarians place great hope into the belief that they may become immortal by the year 2045,[5] by creating one or many non-biological functional copies of their brains, thereby leaving their "biological shell". These copies may then "live eternally" in a version of digital "heaven" or paradise.[6][7]

The realism of the concept

The National Science Foundation has awarded a half-million-dollar grant to the universities of Central Florida at Orlando and Illinois at Chicago to explore how researchers might use artificial intelligence, archiving, and computer imaging to create convincing, digital versions of real people, a possible first step toward virtual immortality.[8]

The Digital Immortality Institute explores three factors necessary for digital immortality. First, at whatever level of implementation, avatars require guaranteed Internet accessibility. Next, avatars must be what users specify, and they must remain so. Finally, future representations must be secured before the living users are no more.[9]

The aim of Dmitry Itskov's 2045 Initiative is to "create technologies enabling the transfer of an individual’s personality to a non-biological carrier, and extending existence, including to the point of immortality".[10]


Reaching digital immortality is a two-step process:

  1. archiving and digitizing people,[11]
  2. making the avatar live

Archiving and digitizing people

According to Gordon Bell and Jim Gray from Microsoft Research, retaining every conversation that a person has ever heard is already realistic: it needs less than a terabyte of storage (for adequate quality).[12][13] The speech or text recognition technologies are one of the biggest challenges of the concept.

A second possibility would be to archive and analyze social Internet use to map the personality of people. By analyzing social Internet use during 50 years, it would be possible to model a society's culture, a society's way of thinking, and a society's interests.

Rothblatt envisions the creation of "mindfiles" – collections of data from all kinds of sources, including the photos we upload to Facebook, the discussions and opinions we share on forums or blogs, and other social media interactions that reflect our life experiences and our unique self.[2][14]

Richard Grandmorin[15] summarized the concept of digital immortality by the following equation: "semantic analysis + social internet use + Artificial Intelligence = immortality".

Some find that photos, videos, soundclips, social media posts and other data of oneself could already be regarded as such an archiving.[16][2][17][14]

Susanne Asche states:

As a hopefully minimalistic definition then, digital immortality can be roughly considered as involving a person-centric repository containing a copy of everything that a person sees, hears, says, or engenders over his or her lifespan, including photographs, videos, audio recordings, movies, television shows, music albums/CDs, newspapers, documents, diaries and journals, interviews, meetings, love letters, notes, papers, art pieces, and so on, and so on; and if not everything, then at least as much as the person has and takes the time and trouble to include. The person’s personality, emotion profiles, thoughts, beliefs, and appearance are also captured and integrated into an artificially intelligent, interactive, con-versational agent/avatar. This avatar is placed in charge of (and perhaps "equated" with) the collected material in the repository so that the agent can present the illusion of having the factual memories, thoughts, and beliefs of the person him/herself.
— Susanne Asche, Kulturelles Gedächtnis im 21. Jahrhundert: Tagungsband des internationalen Symposiums, Digital Immortality & Runaway Technology[18]

Making the avatar alive

Defining the avatar to be alive allows it to communicate with the future in the sense that it continues to learn, evolve and interact with people, if they still exist. Technically, the operation exists to implement an artificial intelligence system to the avatar. This artificial intelligence system is then assumed to think and will react on the base of the archive.

Rothblatt proposes the term "mindware" for software that is being developed with the goal of generating conscious AIs. Such software would read a person's "mindfile" to generate a "mindclone." Rothblatt also proposes a certain level of governmental approval for mindware, like an FDA certification, to ensure that the resulting mindclones are well made.[2][14]

Calibration process

During the calibration process, the biological people are living at the same time as their artifact in silicon. The artifact in silicon is calibrated to be as close as possible to the person in question. During this process ongoing updates, synchronization, and interaction between the two minds would maintain the twin minds as one.[2][14]

In fiction

  • In the TV series Caprica a digital copy of a person is created and outlives its real counterpart after the person dies in a terrorist attack.[19][20]
  • In Greg Egan's Permutation city people can achieve quasi digital immortality by mind uploading a digital copy of themselves into a simulated reality.[16][21]
  • Memories with Maya is a novel on the concept of digital immortality.
  • The Silicon Man describes Cryonics as a precursor to digital immortality.
  • In the 1998 novel Vast by Linda Nagata "ghosts" are recorded memories and personalities that can be transferred to another body or kept in electronic storage, granting a limited form of immortality.[22]
  • In the TV series Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, Overmind and Lord Dread planned to digitize all human beings to be able to create a new world.
  • In the TV series Black Mirror the episode San Junipero features a digital, simulated reality of 1987 used to upload minds before death.
  • In the novel / Netflix series Altered Carbon, a person's memories and consciousness can be stored in a disk-shaped device called a cortical stack, which is implanted into the cervical vertebrae.

See also


  1. ^ Parkin, Simon (23 January 2015). "Back-up brains: The era of digital immortality". BBC. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e Rothblatt, Martine (2014). Virtually Human: The Promiseand the Perilof Digital Immortality. ISBN 978-1491532911.
  3. ^ Sofka, Carla (February 2012). Dying, Death, and Grief in an Online Universe: For Counselors and Educators. ISBN 978-0826107329.
  4. ^ DeGroot, Doug (5 November 2003). "VideoDIMs as a framework for Digital Immortality Applications". Intelligent Virtual Agents: 4th International Workshop, IVA 2003, Kloster Irsee, Germany, September 15-17, 2003, Proceedings (Lecture Notes in ... / Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence). ISBN 978-3540200031. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  5. ^ Cohan, Peter (20 June 2013). "Google's Engineering Director: 32 Years To Digital Immortality". Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  6. ^ Lewis, Tanya (17 June 2013). "The Singularity Is Near: Mind Uploading by 2045?". Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  7. ^ Strickland, Jonathan. "How Digital Immortality Works". Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  8. ^ US Government funds virtual reality research,, 14 June 2007
  9. ^ "What is Digital Immortality?". Retrieved 2012-03-20.
  10. ^ Eördögh, Fruzsina (7 May 2013). "Russian Billionaire Dmitry Itskov Plans on Becoming Immortal by 2045". Archived from the original on 24 May 2015. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  11. ^ "Ghost In The Machine: Living Forever As A Digital Avatar". HuffPost India. 2016-04-18. Retrieved 2019-03-09.
  12. ^ Digital Immortality, by Gordon Bell and Jim Gray, Microsoft Research
  13. ^ Bainbridge, William Sims (November 2013). Personality Capture and Emulation. ISBN 978-1-4471-5604-8.
  14. ^ a b c d Desat, Marla (23 September 2014). "Would You Clone Your Mind to Live Forever? Virtually Human". The Escapist. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  15. ^ "soon immortal (@soon_immortal) op Twitter". Retrieved 2012-03-20.
  16. ^ a b Computertechnik und Sterbekultur. ISBN 978-3-643-11071-8. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  17. ^ McQuade, Zan (16 May 2015). "What happens to us on the internet when we die?". The Week. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  18. ^ Asche, Susanne (23 April 2005). Kulturelles Gedächtnis im 21. Jahrhundert: Tagungsband des internationalen Symposiums. KIT Scientific Publishing. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  19. ^ MacIver, Malcolm (5 October 2010). "Caprica Puzzle: If a Digital You Lives Forever, Are You Immortal?". Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  20. ^ Geddes, Linda (7 June 2010). "Immortal avatars: Back up your brain, never die". New Scientist. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  21. ^ Pickover, Clifford A. A Beginner's Guide to Immortality: Extraordinary People, Alien Brains, and Quantum Resurrection. ISBN 978-1560259848.
  22. ^ "Vast Review". SF Site. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
Alan Resnick

Alan Resnick (born July 16, 1986) is an American comedian, visual artist, and filmmaker based in Baltimore, Maryland. He is a member of the Wham City arts collective and founding member of Wham City Comedy.


BINA48 (Breakthrough Intelligence via Neural Architecture 48*) has variously been called a "sentient robot", an android, gynoid, a social robot, a cybernetic companion, and "a robot with a face that moves, eyes that see, ears that hear and a digital mind that enables conversation." The number "48" is an aspirational moniker in the name "Bina48". Based on the exa computing scale for processing and memory, it represents a future benchmark for when Bina48 will exceed the processing speed and memory capacity of a human brain.

BINA48, a robot owned by Martine Rothblatt's Terasem Movement, is part of a multi decade experiment in mind uploading designed to test a two part hypothesis concerning the ability to 1) upload information about a person's memories, attitudes, beliefs, values and mannerisms to a computer which using artificial general intelligence can reanimate that information into a good enough equivalency of the original person's mental traits/ aka personal consciousness and 2) to be able to download that information into a non-biological or nanotech body after combining detailed data about a person with future consciousness software.

BINA48 is a humanoid robot, consisting of a bust-like head and shoulders mounted on a frame, developed by Hanson Robotics and released in 2010. It was modeled after Rothblatt's wife through more than one hundred hours in compiling her memories, feelings, and beliefs and is said to be able to have conversations with humans.

Death and the Internet

A recent extension to the cultural relationship with death is the increasing number of people who die having created a large amount of digital content, such as social media profiles, that will remain after death. This may result in concern and confusion, because of automated features of dormant accounts (e.g. birthday reminders), uncertainty of the deceased's preferences that profiles be deleted or left as a memorial, and whether information that may violate the deceased's privacy (such as email or browser history) should be made accessible to family.

Issues with how this information is sensitively dealt with are further complicated as it may belong to the service provider (not the deceased) and many do not have clear policies on what happens to the accounts of deceased users. While some sites, including Facebook and Twitter, have policies related to death, others remain dormant until deleted due to inactivity or transferred to family or friends. The FADA (Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act) was set in place to legally make it possible to transfer digital possessions legally.

Digital cloning

Digital cloning is an emerging technology, that involves deep-learning algorithms, which allows one to manipulate currently existing audio, photos, and videos that are hyper-realistic. One of the impacts of such technology is that hyper-realistic videos and photos makes it difficult for the human eye to distinguish what is real and what is fake. Furthermore, with various companies making such technologies available to the public, they can bring various benefits as well as potential legal and ethical concerns.

Digital cloning first became popular in the entertainment industry. The idea of digital clones originated from movie companies creating virtual actors of actors who have died. When actors pass away during a movie production, a digital clone of the actor can be synthesized using past footage, photos, and voice recordings to mimic the real person in order to continue the movie production.Modern artificial intelligence, has allowed for the creation of deepfakes. This involves manipulation of a video to the point where the person depicted in the video is saying or performing actions he or she may not have consented to. In April 2018, BuzzFeed released a deepfake video of Jordan Peele, which was manipulated to depict former President, Barack Obama, making statements he has previously not made in public to warn the public against the potential dangers of deepfakes.In addition to deepfakes, companies such as Intellitar now allows one to easily create a digital clone of themselves by feeding a series of images and voice recordings. This essentially creates digital immortality, allowing loved ones to interact with those who died. Digital cloning not only allows one to digitally memorialize their loved ones, but they can also be used to create avatars of historical figures and be used in an educational setting.

With the development of various technology, as mentioned above, there are numerous concerns that arises, including identity theft, data breaches, and other ethical concerns. One of the issues with digital cloning is that there are little to no legislations to protect potential victims against these possible problems.

Gerontology Research Group

The Gerontology Research Group (GRG) is a global group of researchers in various fields that verifies and tracks supercentenarians, or people who are at least 110 years old in a list of the verified oldest people. The group also aims to further gerontology research with a goal of reversing or slowing aging.


The International Council of Design (ico-D; formerly known as International Council of Communication Design or Icograda, which was formerly an initialism for International Council of Graphic Design Associations) is a world organisation for design professionals. ico-D was founded in London in 1963 and celebrated its 50th anniversary on 27 April 2013. It is a non-profit, non-partisan organisation and a "member-based network of independent organisations and stakeholders working within the multidisciplinary scope of design."ico-D members include professional design organisations, design promotion bodies, design media, design education institutions and individuals with a vested interest in professional design. Design media are affiliated through the International Design Media Network (IDMN). Individuals are affiliated through the ico-D's Friends Network which was established in 1991.


Immortality is eternal life, being exempt from death, unending existence. Some modern species may possess biological immortality.

Certain scientists, futurists, and philosophers have theorized about the immortality of the human body, with some suggesting that human immortality may be achievable in the first few decades of the 21st century. Other advocates believe that life extension is a more achievable goal in the short term, with immortality awaiting further research breakthroughs. The absence of aging would provide humans with biological immortality, but not invulnerability to death by disease or physical trauma; although mind uploading could solve that if it proved possible. Whether the process of internal endoimmortality is delivered within the upcoming years depends chiefly on research (and in neuron research in the case of endoimmortality through an immortalized cell line) in the former view and perhaps is an awaited goal in the latter case.In religious contexts, immortality is often stated to be one of the promises of God (or other deities) to human beings who show goodness or else follow divine law. What form an unending human life would take, or whether an immaterial soul exists and possesses immortality, has been a major point of focus of religion, as well as the subject of speculation and debate.

List of hypothetical technologies

Hypothetical technologies are technologies that do not exist yet, but that could exist in the future. They are distinct from emerging technologies, which have achieved some developmental success. Emerging technologies as of 2018 include 3-D metal printing and artificial embryos. Many hypothetical technologies have been the subject of science fiction.

List of science fiction themes

The following is a list of articles about recurring themes in science fiction.

Mind uploading

Whole brain emulation (WBE), mind upload or brain upload (sometimes called "mind copying" or "mind transfer") is the hypothetical futuristic process of scanning the mental state (including long-term memory and "self") of a particular brain substrate and copying it to a computer. The computer could then run a simulation model of the brain's information processing, such that it responds in essentially the same way as the original brain (i.e., indistinguishable from the brain for all relevant purposes) and experiences having a conscious mind.Mind uploading may potentially be accomplished by either of two methods: Copy-and-transfer or gradual replacement of neurons. In the case of the former method, mind uploading would be achieved by scanning and mapping the salient features of a biological brain, and then by copying, transferring, and storing that information state into a computer system or another computational device. The biological brain may not survive the copying process. The simulated mind could be within a virtual reality or simulated world, supported by an anatomic 3D body simulation model. Alternatively the simulated mind could reside in a computer that is inside (or connected to) a (not necessarily humanoid) robot or a biological body.Among some futurists and within the transhumanist movement, mind uploading is treated as an important proposed life extension technology. Some believe mind uploading is humanity's current best option for preserving the identity of the species, as opposed to cryonics. Another aim of mind uploading is to provide a permanent backup to our "mind-file", to enable interstellar space travels, and a means for human culture to survive a global disaster by making a functional copy of a human society in a Matrioshka brain, i.e. a computing device that consumes all energy from a star. Whole brain emulation is discussed by some futurists as a "logical endpoint" of the topical computational neuroscience and neuroinformatics fields, both about brain simulation for medical research purposes. It is discussed in artificial intelligence research publications as an approach to strong AI. Computer-based intelligence such as an upload could think much faster than a biological human even if it were no more intelligent. A large-scale society of uploads might, according to futurists, give rise to a technological singularity, meaning a sudden time constant decrease in the exponential development of technology. Mind uploading is a central conceptual feature of numerous science fiction novels and films.

Substantial mainstream research in related areas is being conducted in animal brain mapping and simulation, development of faster supercomputers, virtual reality, brain–computer interfaces, connectomics and information extraction from dynamically functioning brains. According to supporters, many of the tools and ideas needed to achieve mind uploading already exist or are currently under active development; however, they will admit that others are, as yet, very speculative, but still in the realm of engineering possibility. Neuroscientist Randal Koene has formed a nonprofit organization called Carbon Copies to promote mind uploading research.

Murder of Anna Svidersky

Anna Esther Svidersky (April 26, 1988 – April 20, 2006) was a teenager who lived in the U.S. city of Vancouver, Washington. She was murdered while working in a McDonald's restaurant, by David Barton Sullivan, a schizophrenic twice-convicted sex offender. News of her death quickly spread worldwide, initially through the Internet friends site MySpace, where she had a personal page, and then through other similar sites. The widespread expression of grief over Anna's death by strangers around the world was compared by The Guardian newspaper in Britain to that seen after Diana, Princess of Wales' death.

New England Centenarian Study

The New England Centenarian Study is a study of persons aged 100 and over (centenarians) in the Boston area. It is one of the oldest, largest and most prestigious studies of its kind in the world.The study began in 1994 and was originally focused on research into Alzheimer's. However, it soon became apparent that most centenarians did not have Alzheimer's even though other forms of dementia were common. So it transitioned into finding out why some people can live to 100 and others don't. Some findings included that centenarians had natural advantages, including large blood-platelet size. Studies for genes managed to identify only one major gene associated with longevity.

Researchers are now investigating more detailed genetic analysis including epigenetics. Formerly located at Harvard University, the Study is now located at Boston University and led by Dr. Tom Perls.

In 2006, an offshoot, the New England Supercentenarian Study, was begun.

A study of gene tests of hundreds of centenarians reported in July 2010 that genetics plays an extremely important role in deciding who reaches that age. Centenarians rarely develop diseases of aging, and are more likely to bounce back from diseases. Led by Perls, the study was funded by the National Institute on Aging's Division of Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology.

Soma (video game)

Soma (stylized as SOMA) is a survival horror video game developed and published by Frictional Games for Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The game was released on 22 September 2015 for Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 4 and on 1 December 2017 on Xbox One.Soma takes place on an underwater remote research facility with machinery that begins to take on human characteristics. Simon Jarrett, a fish out of water protagonist, finds himself at the facility under mysterious circumstances and is inadvertently forced into uncovering its past, while trying to make sense of his predicament and potential future.Soma's gameplay builds on the conventions established in the previous horror titles of Frictional Games, including an emphasis on stealthy evasion of threats, puzzle-solving and immersion. However, in a break with this tradition, it also de-emphasizes aspects such as inventory management in favour of a tighter focus on narrative. Soma received positive reviews from critics, who applauded its story and voice acting, although its enemy design and encounters received some criticism.

USS Callister

"USS Callister" is the first episode of the fourth series of anthology series Black Mirror. Written by series creator Charlie Brooker and William Bridges and directed by Toby Haynes, it first aired on Netflix, along with the rest of series four, on 29 December 2017.

The episode follows Robert Daly (Jesse Plemons), a reclusive but gifted programmer and co-founder of a popular massive multiplayer online game who is bitter over the lack of recognition of his position from his coworkers. He takes out his frustrations by simulating a Star Trek-like space adventure within the game, using his co-workers' DNA to create sentient digital clones of them. Acting as the captain of the USS Callister starship, Daly is able to order his co-workers around, bend them to his will, and mistreat them if they get out of line. When Daly brings newly hired Nanette Cole (Cristin Milioti) into his game, she encourages the other clones to revolt against Daly.

In contrast to most Black Mirror episodes, "USS Callister" contains overt comedy, and has many special effects. As a fan of Star Trek, Bridges was keen to introduce many details from the show into "USS Callister", though the episode was conceived mostly with The Twilight Zone episode "It's a Good Life" and Viz character Playtime Fontayne in mind.

The episode has received positive reception, with reviewers praising the allusions to Star Trek, the acting, and the cinematography, though the plot garnered mixed reviews. Some critics saw the episode as being about male abuse of authority, and have compared Daly to recent events surrounding internet bullies and Harvey Weinstein. In 2018, the episode won four Emmy Awards, including the Outstanding Television Movie and Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or Drama.

Life extension
Living and
notable centenarians
(over age 100)
(over age 110)
Miscellaneous records

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