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Immortal Avatars: Back Up Your Brain, Never Die


Zoe Graystone is a girl with two brains. Only one of them is human: the other is an exact digital copy that has become conscious in its own right. When the human Zoe dies, her digital brain is implanted into a humanoid robot, effectively bringing her back from the grave.

Such ideas have littered science fiction for decades. Indeed, Graystone is a character in the American TV drama Caprica. But could such a tale ever become reality?

Though there is little prospect of creating a genuinely conscious robo-clone in the foreseeable future, several companies are taking the first steps in that direction. Their initial goal is to enable you to create a lifelike digital representation, or avatar, that can continue long after your biological body has decomposed. This digitised "twin" might be able to provide valuable lessons for your great-grandchildren--as well as giving them a good idea of what their ancestor was like.

Ultimately, however, they aim to create a personalised, conscious avatar embodied in a robot--effectively enabling you, or some semblance of you, to achieve immortality. "If you can upload yourself into this digital form, it could live forever," says Nick Mayer of Lifenaut, a U.S. company that is exploring ways to build lifelike avatars. "It really is a way of avoiding death."

From New Scientist
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