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Digital Immortality: Avatars Populated by Facebook and Twitter

April 22nd, 2016 by Michael Dyet

Hmmm, is the eternal dream of immortality finally within reach?

It has fascinated human beings through the ages – the possibility that we might somehow slip free of the shackles of our mortal bodies and live forever. The concept may now have passed from fantasy, through science fiction and into the realm of technological probability.

It is not quite what mankind has yearned for throughout the centuries. But digital immortality may now be visible on the not-too-distant horizon.

Digital immortality refers to the theory that it will be possible to store or transfer your personality into some form of a computer entity and that this entity will be able to communicate with people in the future. Think James Cameron’s Avatar without the funky blue bodies with tails. It is within the realm of possibility that this avatar could continue to learn and develop autonomously.

So how many turns of the hourglass are we talking about before we can become robot/human hybrids? Would you believe 30 years from now? People who spend their time exploring and pondering this possibility (who arguably have way too much time on their hands) believe they may become immortal by the year 2045.

The basic idea is the development of technology to make a functional copy of a human brain which allows you to leave behind your physical body and live forever in digital nirvana.

Social media may be one of the enablers of this technology leap. Experts in the field conjecture that the unique self we put forward in social media platforms – photos we upload to Facebook, opinions we put out there in online forums and other life experiences we share on social media – could be the source for mind files that would help create an avatar.

If it all sounds too farfetched, here is some food for thought. Two U.S. universities have apparently been awarded a half-million dollar grant to study how artificial intelligence, archiving and computer imaging might be leveraged to create digital versions of real people.

Personally speaking, I am equivocal about the whole concept. While I am in no hurry to reach the end of my life, the idea of an existence with no outer limit is rather disconcerting. Where would the motivation come from to make the most of today? If there are endless todays lying ahead, what drives me to live with gusto today or tomorrow or the day after tomorrow?

It is often said that life is a journey. If we extend the metaphor, digital immortality transforms life into a never-ending journey on a digital road leading to a virtual paradise. Given the choice, I think I will leave my avatar unplugged, live out my days in the mortal shell I was given and learn to appreciate the blessings of mortality.

Parting thought. As I understand it, these digital avatars, powered by archives and artificial intelligence, would be internet-dependant. So what is to stop one avatar from hacking his digital brother and taking over his virtual life? Immortality, it seems, has its pitfalls too.

~ Michael Robert Dyet is the author of “Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel” – double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at or the novel online companion at

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