Effect of Digital Immortals in Psychiatry

Effect of Digital Immortals in Psychiatry

Have you ever wished you could speak to one of your great grandparents? Or would you rather leave a lasting digital replica of yourself that could interact with future generations? It may sound sci-fi, but it’s part of a new and growing industry that is being developed as we speak.
When I think of technology in mental health the first thing that comes to mind is how it may help solve a problem in the present moment. Enter a field that has downstream effects on you and your generations to come.  
If you’re like me, you might not have heard of this concept. I recently had the opportunity to speak with two individuals that believe that this is poised to become the next big industry boom: AI-driven digital bots, or “digital immortals.”
Think Alexa, but with your personality, your communication patterns, and your life experiences.  
The goal is for the machine learning algorithm to synthesize all the data you have left behind, plus the data you intentionally input to create your digital clone.   
Understandably, you may have a lot of questions come to mind:

  • What data would be fed into the AI system to build a digital twin if you speak differently to different people?
  • How does the AI build a model based on speech input? How does it understand my personality from my speech?  
  • How do you measure the accuracy of a digital clone, and who would ensure accuracy down the road? To claim sentience, doesn’t that imply that received communication would have an impact on the bot’s feelings, and change the model over time thus affecting its personality?  
  • Who would take responsibility for suggestions, advice, influence, or impact from your digital clone? The company that maintains it? Your estate?  

These questions are just scratching the surface as the new industry opens a new world of hypotheticals.  
This new concept of a digital immortal is part of a “digital afterlife,” which includes the current digital obituary to memorialize a loved one, and newer developments, such as griefbots, a way of communicating with a digital version of the deceased.
Griefbots, intended to make grieving easier, can easily complicate the picture and prolong grief as loved ones become attached to the new likeness. For this reason, Dr. Maggi Savin-Baden, author of AI for Death and Dying, recommends that griefbots always be used in conjunction with a grief counselor.   
We accept the fact that loved ones cherish our art, music, writings, or memorabilia. But, when it comes to a digital twin with our personality and sentience, that may be too futuristic for most.  
According to Emil Jimenez, founder and CEO of Mind Bank, creators of your Personal Digital Twin®, all data is stored securely. One may benefit from provided insights from a cognitive and psychologic analysis of responses to help in the present moment, as well.  
And, as you continue to answer their guided prompts, you can review and refine how that AI model is becoming “you.”  
The company is continuing to expand its AI model to include not just an analysis of your spoken words as text, but also a psycholinguistic analysis of the pitch, tone, and cadence of your words.  
Indeed, there is still much work to be done. Sentience, according to experts, is still at least 30 years away. Both you and your digital twin have time to think about it.
If you are interested in learning more about this subject, please check out the Future Psychiatry Podcast

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