Eterni.me is a start-up that's offering people the chance to live forever. Not literally. However, it can construct an avatar based on your life, and other people will be able to talk to it. "It's like a Skype chat from the past," says the website.
"Eterni.me collects almost everything that you create during your lifetime, and processes this huge amount of information using complex Artificial Intelligence algorithms. Then it generates a virtual YOU, an avatar that emulates your personality and can interact with, and offer information and advice to your family and friends after you pass away."
The company has emerged from MIT’s Entrepreneurship Development Program, so it does have some academic backing. However, the team only got together a week ago, so the project looks more wishful thinking than reality, but it did get TV coverage from 7News in Boston.
People have been developing chatbots for decades -- Joseph Weizenbaum created a fake therapist called Eliza at MIT in the 1960s -- and there are Turing Test competitions to see if they can pass for human. So far, they have not been very convincing, but increases in computer power and new developments in data mining should improve things.
Of course, it would be really cool to have your virtual personality installed in a humanoid robot. Even though you'd still be dead, you could live on as an android.