Digital Immortality and Virtual Humans

A journal paper that Maggi and I wrote last year on Digital Immortality and Virtual Humans and which was published in Postdigital Science and Education (2019) (1:87–103) is now available on-line through the Springer web site on this link.


The use of virtual assistants such as Siri that provide voice and conversational interfaces, the growth of machine learning techniques to mine large data sets and the rise in the level of autonomy being given to computer-controlled systems all represent shifts in artificial intelligence that are enhancing the creation of digital immortality. The growth of personality capture and levels of brain simulation as well as computationally inspired life after death may change the future of religion,affect understandings of the afterlife and increase the influence of the dead surviving in society. This paper provides an overview of recent developments in the area of digital immortality, explores how such digital immortals might be created and raises challenging issues. It presents the early findings from a study that created a virtual persona. This prototype system contains relevant memories,knowledge, processes and modelling of an individual’s personality traits, knowledge and experience and, also, incorporates the individual’s subjective and possibly flawed view of reality. It is argued that this system offers the possibility for the development of a persona that learns [and acts] post-death.


Digital immortality.Virtual humans. Chatbots. Autonomous agents.Artificial intelligence. Machine learning