A new social network has launched that offers users the chance to live forever through an artificial intelligence counterpart that learns from their thoughts and actions to post and interact in their absence. ETER9 (pronounced ee-ter-nine) is the brainchild of Portuguese IT company AUTO.NET, who wanted to provide people with "the elixir of eternity".
Through a user's comments, posts and interactions with other members, the AI counterpart is able to learn the likes, interests and personality of a user. Virtual memories are formed in a section of the site called the Cortex, which the AI draws on to keep publishing even when the user is not online.
"ETER9 is not just another social network, it brings fresh air to all social users," ETER9 CEO Henrique Jorge told IBTimes UK. "The concept of immortality is attracting more and more people to the platform as well as the counterpart concept, and this makes the difference.
"It proposes an interesting concept of digital immortality, promising to be the elixir of eternity for its users. ETER9 is a form of social interaction for the new generation, where it's possible to establish connections with both human users and virtual beings. I can create a New Reality where the impossible can happen and eternity is within reach."
Users of ETER9 are able to decide on the activity level of their AI counterpart through the account settings, as well as choosing whether or not to allow their counterpart to stay active forever by activating the Eternity setting. This function is automatically enabled when a user first signs up.
Within the social network, virtual beings known as Niners also interact with human users, as well as each other. This leads to the absurd scenario of humans leaving the network and artificial intelligence beings continuing to interact between themselves independently of humans.
ETER9 isn't the first service to offer people the chance to immortalise themselves through their digital footprint. Last year, researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) unveiled a project that would create a "virtual you", capable of interacting with a person's family, friends and even ancestors after their death. The Eterni.me service is still in a private beta stage and it has yet to be seen how accurately it can replicate a user's personality.
Both ETER9 and Eterni.me are reminiscent of the Black Mirror episode Be Right Back, in which a grieving widow kept in touch with her dead partner through a predictive software package. The dark undertones of the Channel Four show, together with warnings from scientists and technologists that AI poses an existential threat to mankind, are not a concern for Jorge.
"As time passes, evolution is inevitable," Jorge said. "Although AI is not a new concept, it has become more and more present in our daily routine. The potential of AI is impressive, it's up to us to decide how far it can go.
"On ETER9, AI is taken to another level. You have an extension of yourself, which will learn and communicate with or for you. Nevertheless, you can control it. You are the one who decides how much you want your counterpart to be active."