A Robotic You
I went to see the Imitation Game last week. It was really upsetting; I mean, the end was upsetting, the rest of the movie was wonderful. But that’s the problem with sad endings: it’s the note that you end on, so you walk out of the theater on that note.
The next night at dinner, we told the twins the plot of the movie. We had just been to the Spy Museum where they have a room dedicated to the Enigma machine and Turing’s work. I told them about the Turing test and the idea of the imitation game. Which, of course, led us to the topic of Bina48.
Bina48 is a robot modeled after Martine Rothblatt’s wife, Bina. If you look up Bina48 on YouTube, you can see her in action. Her face moves. She can listen and respond to conversation a la Siri. Her “brain” is a replica of the real Bina’s brain in that Bina has given Bina48 her memories and likes and beliefs and personality quirks. She’s Bina… sort of… without Bina’s emotions.
Terasem, Rothblatt’s foundation that made and cares for Bina48, is currently allowing anyone who wants to make a mindfile. You can have this receptacle to upload your thoughts and feelings with the idea that the file could one day be downloaded into an robotic body made to look like you. And relatives thousands of years into the future would be able to power you up and have an actual conversation with you. They could ask questions and get answers.
Which is sort of cool… right?
Instead of making a small book towards the end of your life, curated and culled to what you believe will be the most important information to pass along to future people who want it, you could start uploading your You-ness at birth. And as you age, you could keep putting information into your mindfile. I could upload the recipe for my chocolate chip cookies and my thoughts about current events as they’re happening (vs. trying to remember them in retrospect) and go through the step-by-step process of constructing a book. And then future generations would be able to sit with a robotic me (or, currently, a photo avatar of me) and talk to me. They could ask me questions, and my avatar would answer them.
It’s not just helpful for the future. I mean, it would be helpful now. How many times do people ask me questions that my avatar could technically answer? Like a recipe or someone’s email address or my thoughts on an article?
So… would you create a mindfile? And let it be uploaded into a robotic body? And would you want your loved ones to do the same?