On 2013 an episode of the British TV show Black Minvrimagined a harrowing possibility: that technology might allow us to recreate the dead. A young woman named Martha loses her partner in a sudden accident and copes with the loss-or perhaps refuses to cope with itwith the assistance of an unnerving artificial intelligence, trained on her partner's data footprint, that can speak, act, and appear exactly as he did. It's not long before Martha becomes obsessed with the emulation, gathering every remnant of her partner's life to incorporate into the model and spending hours on the phone conversing with his "voice'' rather than with her living loved ones.
Perhaps the most gut-wrenching aspect of the episode is how much of it might be empathized with. It's easy to understand Martha's desperation to escape the pain oflosing a loved one. Who wouldn't be tempted to do so by clutching onto such an avatar-even while knowing that to deny the finality of death would be the ultimate act of self-deception, a refusal to accept what it is to be human?
Law | Law and Philosophy | Science and Technology Law
Our Avatars, Ourselves,
Boston Rev., September 29, 2023
Available at: https://scholarship.law.columbia.edu/faculty_scholarship/4289