Eternime. Is there life after death with AI?

A conversation with Marius Ursache, CEO, and Co-founder of Eternime

Marius Ursache is an aspiring entrepreneur from Romania running a very successful design agency Grapefruit. He is a startup mentor at MIT and currently CEO and co-founder of two startups: Eternime and DE Toolbox.
Disciplined entrepreneur. Award-winning designer. Productivity junkie. Amateur anthropologist. Former doctor.


I met Marius in Asian Culture Center (Gwangju, ROK) a couple of days ago when I visited it to see a showcase of an art installation by my friend Curly.Live.

Marius had a talk about startups, lifestyle, life lessons, and his startup Eternime.

His startup is something I want to talk about today.

The idea behind it is very interesting.

Remember “I, Robot”?

I am talking about the part when detective Spooner arrives at the crime scene to find the body of his friend Dr. Lanning and a fancy gadget that projects his interactive image.

That’s what Eternime is about.

  Skype for the dead

This is how Marius elevator-pitch his startup.

The idea is to collect all of the digital footprint (words, thoughts, videos, SNS content) that the person leaves on the internet and create an avatar for himself so that it can stay after the person is long gone.

Up to date, there are roughly 39,000 people who signed up.

“We have received messages from parents who want to create an avatar of their child because their kid has terminal cancer,” says Marius “Someone wants to save their dying parents. We get requests from old people who know that they will pass away soon and want to leave a legacy for their children”.

Here is what Marius says about Eternime:

It made me think of some questions.

Do I want to use it?

Yes. But not now. The technology advances rapidly but I think we are just not ready yet. AI is getting stronger and represents a serious concern and even a real threat to our existence. There are many things to be worried about when it comes to the development of sustainable AI.

Companies push forward to stay competitive, shareholders add oil to the fire demanding speedups, on the opposite side of the rope there are governments who are concerned about the safety of it knowing that they need to externally inhibit the technology.

Call me old-fashioned but I am still slightly skeptical about the efficiency of legislative regulations around the advancements of AI.

Let’s keep an eye on AI.

Do I want to share my private data?

Yes. I am already doing it. Google knows it all. It knows my browsing history, things that interest me, my tastes, it can see what I read, write, what kind of video content do I watch. Google is taking care of my security keeping all of the passwords including the passwords for online banking. Google constantly tracks my location using GPS. And I am okay with that.

My point is that even I am concerned about sharing private information with a third party there are two main implications:

  • Google has come into our lives in a very natural and unnoticeable way. The implementation of AI personal assistants and a personal cloud for thoughts is a predictable next step that will also enter daily lives unobtrusively.
  • In order to create an avatar with the highest precision and interactive capabilities, Eternime will need all of the data it can get and it will be hard to do it without the conscious and purposeful contribution of data by a user.

What are my reasons?

I want to leave a legacy for my children. I think that the knowledge and experience that I have acquired can be compressed in a very educating way.

I want my kids to mature faster and to learn how to avoid the mistakes that I have made.

I think that alone can be a sufficient motivation for anyone to start thinking deeply about his digital footprint and the quality of thoughts that he is sharing in SNS.

Execution

The word-processing part is the most important as the primary source of the content that anyone creates is text. Not everyone records video or audio content to share with the world but all of us write posts on Facebook.

What would be even a better idea is to use the data from Quora so that the interactive avatar could actually answer questions and even possibly elaborate on some of the ideas.

Integration with YouTube could tell a lot about the tastes of a person and help to predict the reactions to certain things.

Geographical location and the place of birth identified by GPS can help to understand the cultural background of a person and his habits.

One of the very important aspects to consider is taking the friends and relationships into the equation. People who surround us shape us.

It would be also cool to record voice and scan the face and the body in order to recreate a realistic holographic image as the one that we see in “I, Robot”.

Execution is crucial and there are many problems that Eternime might face on the way. “Finding people to work with is the hardest part. There is great demand for engineers who can work on AI these days” says Marius.

Final words

As more and more companies like Eternime emerge we are slowly crawling to Singularity. I love the idea of it. I believe that humanity can transcend.

Maybe one day, I will upload all of my letters to my unborn child to the cloud and let AI process it transforming me into a digital ghost.

For now, I will just keep writing and wish Marius luck in his endeavor.

 

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