Prof. Luc Steels & Dr. Oscar Vilarroya
BE & SP
director of the VUB’s AI laboratory & researcher in neuropsychology & cognitive science at Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
Will Artificial Intelligence lead to Digital Immortality?
There are now 30 million Facebook accounts of deceased people. What happens with our digital presence when we die? We are uploading massive amounts of information about ourselves and even more information is gathered behind our back by Internet companies, smart city infrastructure, administrations, etc. All this information creates for each of us a rich digital footprint that is getting substantive enough to be used by machine learning and AI for building artificial replica's of ourselves. So what do we want to happen when we physically die? Do we want our artificial replica to live on - making us digitally immortal? Or do we want to have a serene digital death at the same time as our physical death? And how far can or should such artificial replica's go? Should they intermingle with the real world through avatars in virtual reality, synthetic audio and video messages, or holographic presentations? Should they use AI to engage in conversations with our loved ones? Is current AI up to task to create artificial replica's and if not what are the limitations - consciousness perhaps, or lack of empathy towards real humans?
We are scientists closely working on AI technologies and neuroscience. But we are also artists who wanted to explore the ramifications of our work using artistic media. The result is an opera Fausto that will be performed at the Summit on 3 may. Fausto uses the ancient myth of Faust to explore a not too distant future where intelligent agents, mind uploading, brain-computer interfaces, and augmented reality have developed further. Will this lead to a kind of new 'transhuman' gnosticism where humans long for digital immortality by uploading their minds in the cloud? What happens when some of the intelligent autonomous agents operating in the cloud become malicious and want to seize human bodies to become embodied in the real world? This talk describes how we created this opera and what the broader societal repercussions are of the world view that the characters embody.