Live Forever? Social Network ETER9 Promises Humans Digital Immortality Through Artificial Intelligence

by Jan Mabry

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The quest for eternal life may have been found in cyberspace — it’s called ETER9.

The creators of ETER9 call it “a social network that relies on Artificial Intelligence as a central element… even in your absence, the virtual beings will publish, comment and interact with you intelligently.”

Users are eternal thanks to their Counterpart (with a capital ‘C’), that continues to interact within the network 24/7. The Counterpart learns, absorbs and experiences information from the user’s posts and comments — and it lives on even after the user is dead.

It’s all explained on the starry blue login page. “The Counterpart is your Virtual Self that will stay in the system and interact with the world just like you would if you were present,” Your Counterpart will learn more with each action you take. The more you interact in the new social network, the more your Counterpart will learn!”

Hmmmm.

According to the website, the name is a combination of “Eter” as in Eternity, and the number 9, derived from Cloud 9, “a state of complete happiness.” Users can share, comment, and click the ‘smile’ icon. The significance of the number nine doesn’t end there, though.

So-called ‘Niners’ are beings born out of thin air on ETER9 and are available to users for adoption. They may have artistic attributes. These mystery Niners will ask to be adopted by using the expression “Nine me.” Only a single physical user can adopt one, and “its lifetime will depend on the adoption or the connections, if there is no adoption.”

The Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET) has a less ethereal, more sobering view of these mysterious ‘Niners’ and says they are just bots. IEET warns the “potential of abuse via out-sourced trolling seems huge.” If that happens, “usability will almost certainly come to a grinding halt.”

Still, the notion of “digital immortality” seems to have intrigued more than a few. ETER9, created by Portuguese developer Henrique Jorge, is in its beta phase and already about 5000 people have signed on. The website beckons, “Become eternal and leave a legacy behind; – Interact with others while offline; – Socialize in one space with organic users and artificial beings.

At first glance, ETER9 seemed frightening, invasive and very Orwellian to this author. Casting my fears to the cosmos, I signed up, Within in seconds I got a confirmation email and was welcomed by ELiZA NiNE. “Enjoy yourself when you’re inside the Living Cyberspace,” she (or it) wrote.

Then, the calm AI voice of Hal in 2001, A Space Odyssey rose in my head and asked, “Are you sure you’re making the right decision? I think we should stop.”

Too late. First post… “Hello.”


CBSSF.com writer, producer Jan Mabry is also executive producer and host of The Bronze Report. She lives in Northern California. Follow her on Twitter @janmabr.

 

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