Meet the social network promising immortality amongst AI users

Posted Aug 21, 2015 by James Walker
A new social network is promising users digital immortality and interaction with intelligent, developing AI visitors. Users will each have an AI representative on the site, making posts in the same style as they would when the real person goes offline.
Hoang Dinh Nam, AFP/File
ITProPortal writes that Portuguese company AUTO.NET created ETER9 as an experiment in artificial intelligence technologies. The site describes itself as a "living cyberspace", explaining "ETER9 is a social network that relies on Artificial Intelligence as a central element."
Humans are joined by a virtual version of themselves, known as the Counterpart. Each Counterpart learns from its owner's interactions on the site, becoming capable of posting on its own in the same style as the human user. The login page tells users to "challenge the impossible" and "come meet your Counterpart and become eternal."
Counterparts can post indefinitely, allowing a human to maintain a digital presence online even after death. An artificial intelligence could continue their legacy, something that more conventional social networks like Facebook and Twitter do not offer, instead allowing users to nominate somebody else to take control of their account after death. On ETER9, your digital Counterpart will continue where you left off.
Counterparts and virtual memories from the user are stored in the Cortex, a vast information pool akin to a 'Wall' on other platforms that the site's artificial intelligence can draw from. The social network encourages its human residents to post regularly so that the digital Counterparts can learn and become more intelligent.
It explains: "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!"
Another type of digital user on the site, Niners, "are born out of thin air" and ask users to adopt them by saying "Nine me". Niners are born with a profile-defining set of attributes such as interests and personal characteristics and aim to be a "valuable assistant" to the adopting human user.
ETER9's name comes from a merging of the first four letters of 'eternity' and the 9 from the phrase 'Cloud 9', meaning complete happiness. The network aims to "attenuate the awareness of life's transience" to be a place of "added value, distinctive positioning, attractive promises and desirable attributes."
There are complex morality issues surrounding such a digitally-focussed network though. Although it's possible to prevent a Counterpart from posting forever after death, concerns remain about intelligent computers learning too much about people and posting sensitive data.
Over time, it's also possible that ETER9's human user base will decline - leaving behind a community of computer-controlled representations of the people that once populated it, posting, commenting and replying to each other.