Projecting immortality – holograms, facebook, and pyramids

What with plans for the late Michael Jackson to tour again by means of a holographic projection, you’d think he’d never been gone.

In fact to the majority of the world, Jacko was always hyper real, more projection of a persona mediated by a television screen, than actual person. So perhaps a hologram of him is just as likely to float the average punter’s boat as a real live performance.

Although he’s the first performer to come back from the dead in this way, this technology has been used to good affect for a while, Prince Charles was using it in 2008.

But what I find particularly interesting is that what such holograms appear to offer, is a genuine shot at humanistic immortality. The development of artificial intelligence over the years hasn’t quite reached Blade Runner standard yet, but programmers are now able to produce bots which can very effectively mimic human reactions, if not emotions, in conversations.

If you add this ability with the popularity of uploading hopes and dreams, memories, likes, dislikes, crushes and pet hates to cyber space via Facebook, twitter, Pinterest and other social sites, and then mix in the holographic technology, it’s no great leap to imagine that one day in the not too distant future, you’ll be able to have a deceased loved one sitting in the same room as you, talking about the old days.

In fact this kind of project has been under development for a number of years, I first researched the subject at the end of the 1990s, when BT of all strange companies were leading lights in the area. They were, and perhaps still are, looking for ways of developing the digital equivalent of a person’s consciousness, by uploading memories and opinions to a cyberspace database/mind.

That technology has become massively democratised in the last few years, as social networking has gripped the collective consciousness. Now if I want to know what people think about a subject, I can visit their page and often quickly glean enough details to form an opinion. If that same idea was subject to a systematic process, and the results fed into a sophisticated AI machine, which was then linked to a holographic projector… kerpow, I am immortal.

Immortality experiments aren’t particularly new of course, all powerful empires had them, and they were generally aligned with the sophisticated technology of the time, hence the reason we now find pyramids, mummies, and monuments of one sort or another around the world.What this appears to be is the scientific rationalist equivalent of the pyramid.

It seems like humanity is generally questing for immortality, and willing to go to great lengths to achieve it – in the Hebrew scriptures, the writer of the book ‘Ecclesiastes’ says, in the gendered language of his time: “He has also set eternity in the hearts of men.” True dat.


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