A startup, headed by some eggheads from MIT, has an interesting scheme to provide an ersatz immortality for their users.
Eterni.me1 takes a page from the NSA’s playbook by recording everything you do online, and codifying the sum of your existence into a chatbot. Is it really you, or just a turbocharged Eliza spouting data online? Marlus Ursache and crew hope it’ll be clever enough that the families won’t care.
But who wants to be a talking head in a computer, when you can be a T-1000? The improbable liquid nemesis from Terminator 2: Judgement Day is slowly becoming a reality2. Boffins in Bejing have figured out how to make liquid metal assume simple shapes with the application of a thin film of water, then zapping it with an electric field.
Right now, the simple shape is just a sphere. Don’t let that fool you, as Lei Sheng and pals can make it roll around, and merge other bits of liquid metal, just like Robert Patrick’s villain. Appreciating they must learn to crawl before walking, the next step is putting those spheres in a row, creating an earthworm-bot to crawl through a human body.
This is all well and good, as your loved ones, and enemies, will still have your company, or something pretending to be you.
Maybe in time, it will be you, after a fashion.
Being a robot shouldn’t be the last word, since science has the ability to clone people. Popularized in Sleeper, the implementation of clones hasn’t been a ringing success3, with many not coming to term, and being born with weak immune systems, the reality falls short of Emperor Palpatine’s grand vision.
The few clones who do survive aren’t pixel-perfect copies. For example there’s Rainbow and her clone CC, a.k.a. CopyCat4. While Rainbow is a calico, CopyCat has no orange and her markings are completely different than Rainbow’s coat. Whether science can transfer one’s qualia into a new body remains to be seen, but in the meantime we have science fiction.
A scenario speculating on these emerging technologies appeared on the Clarkesworld podcast5. From cloned cats, to cloned humans, and their impact on the bereaved, Cat Rambo looks at the potential problems of lazarusing our beloveds in Tortoiseshell Cats Are Not Refundable. Give it a listen, or a scan, but have a tissue ready.