How to Skype with Your Great-Great-Great Grandfather

Genghis KhanOkay, this is creepy. Creative, but creepy.

Springwise alerted me to a startup that will let people talk with their dead relatives and loved ones.

This isn’t some sort of magic, nor is it quite what it seems. Eterni.me compiles information about the recently deceased–social media, text messages, e-mails, etc–to recreate a person’s personality after they’re gone, thus enabling you to “chat” with the person.

As Springwise put it, “Eterni.me’s essential aim is to lessen the impact of death and ensure that people are remembered after they die — something everyone hopes for.”

I admire the intention and the ingenuity. The implications could be fascinating–imagine what you could learn about someone! Of course, there are ethical implications: Does the person, while alive, have to authorize it? After all, you have Eterni.me digging through your past and making it accessible to others. I know I’ve sent some things in e-mails that I hope are never read again.

Also, let’s take it a step further: Why limit Eterni.me to the dead? Could people use it on the living? You could use it to help you get over a bad breakup or to tell off the digital version of your boss after a hard day at work. You could reconnect with old friends who you’re curious about but don’t really want to talk to in real life. You could chat with celebrities, historical figures, or fictional characters. I’d love to have a chat with Genghis Khan, especially if he appeared to be just as interested in chatting as I am.

Imagine getting an instant message from Genghis Khan: “Hey, going on a midnight raid. You in?”

You: “To Taco Bell?”

Khan: “We will pillage their tacos and destroy their bells!”

You: “Alright, dude, simmer down. Chicken or beef?”

Khan: “Chicken.”

On a scale from 1-10, how creepy do you think this concept is? If you could talk to a fully functional AI of anyone ever, who would it be?