Lawyers are going to have a field day. But researchers in Chicago are working together on a project to create a virtual copy of individuals that could live on after their death. In other words there could be a copy of you alive on the Internet, doing business and earning money long after your mortal decline.
Already Second Life has proven that people engage with virtual individuals. Indeed, you can make money online via Second Life. However, the “people” on Second Life are not real – they are representations that allow users to lead a fantasy life online. The research at Chicago is extending the virtual world idea into something that connects to us as individuals in a much deeper way.
The news about the Chicago research comes at the same time as one of Britain’s leading futurists, Lesley Gavin predicts that the real world and the virtual world will eventually combine. And add to this thought provoking stuff that within the next 25 years we’ll be supplementing our brain’s capacity by getting wirelessly connected parts of the Internet to actually do our thinking for us.
So what does all this mean for anyone running a business online at the moment? It means that at the fringes of your online business there are developments taking place that will change, forever, the way we think, behave and act as human beings. That means if you see your business extending beyond the next 20 years – or indeed beyond your own lifetime – you need to at least consider the ways you might take advantage of these systems. For me, I’ll be considering how a virtual me can carry on writing these articles, long after my death – thinking in the same way as I think, writing in my style and coming up with the same kind of ideas that I produce now. This may sound far fetched and “science fiction”, but just 10 years ago if I’d told you I would be making instant video calls to friends in Australia, without paying a penny, you’d have thought I was mad. Along came Skype.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+