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Happily ever after … in the Metaverse (Reprise)

Way back in April 2022 themetabite.com pondered the possibility of immortality on the Metaverse; by uploading enough information to create a virtual representation of ourselves that future generations will be able to interact with.


From the legendary accounts of French alchemist Nicolas Flamel, whose wife was purported to have achieved immortality, to modern day cryonics, where bodies are stored in stainless steel tanks filled with liquid nitrogen in the hope that they can be revived in the future, people have always been captivated by idea of prolonging human life.  And now, co-founder, executive chairman and CEO of Meta Mark Zuckerberg has announced that his company may one day be able to allow people to interact with the virtual avatars of their deceased loved ones.


In a recent interview, Zuckerberg was asked if it would be possible to use virtual reality (VR) technology to talk to dead friends and relatives.  In response Zuckerberg stated that while being able to interact with a loved one or relive certain memories could be helpful, such a technology may become unhealthy, adding that more research was required.


Others Metaverse companies have been more bullish in pursuit of virtual immortality.  Somnium Space is a VR platform that allows users to create, explore, and interact with a vast, persistent, and immersive virtual world.  The platform is accessible through various VR devices, including Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Windows Mixed Reality, as well as through traditional desktop computers.  Users can create their own avatars, build and customize their own virtual spaces, and interact with other users in real-time.  But it’s the Somnium Space’s Live Forever Mode that sets it apart from other platforms.


Live Forever Mode allows “Automatic recording mode of yourself on your own property for future AI analysis to bring your avatar to life.”  In other words, let Somnium Space record and preserve enough of your in-space data and, after your physical death, your children or distant relatives will be able to interact a virtual copy of you via your Somnium Space avatar.


Live Forever Mode was inspired by the death of CEO and founder of Somnium Space Artur Sychov’s father.  The ability for people to be able to hold a conversation with a dead parent or relative, indistinguishable from the living person they once were, will be an incredibly powerful tool in helping deal with grief and the loss of a loved one, particularly children.  There’s a scene in Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film Minority Report where the main protagonist, played Tom Cruise, tries to deal with the loss of his son through holographic recordings of birthday parties and the use of a fictional hard drug called neuroin.  If it were filmed today, perhaps the writers would have Cruise’s character interact with an avatar of his son in the Metaverse.  This ability to help people deal with loss-based depression is another way the healthcare industry might be able to leverage the power of the Metaverse to support patients.


With rapid advances in computing, machine learning and artificial intelligence, it’s quite plausible that, over the course of a human lifetime, we will be able to upload enough information to create a virtual representation of ourselves that future generations will be able to interact with. If everyone were to do this, it would likely become a new compendium of human knowledge, providing a vital tool with which for future generations can remember the lessons of the past.


The question is: “how much of ourselves do we want to share with future generations?”


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