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Immortality through a Bot

On Facebook, there is an option to either memorialize your account or delete it when you die. But on Eter9, the account lives on, posting on the cyberspace long after you are no longer alive. That’s the idea, anyway. When you sign up for Eter9, your ‘Counterpart’ (a bot) is created and learns from every one of your actions. When you log off, the bot then continues to post and interact with others for you. After a certain number of interactions with the network, there is a very good chance that your Counterpart will be able to take on your identity, act exactly like you, and replace you forever- on the cyberspace at least. And to make the experience more interesting, Eter9 has populated its own social network with bots called “Niners” who can be adopted and act like “a valuable assistant.” Even if this social network does sound a little chilling, at least 5,000 users have already signed up for its beta phase.

In this era of hyper-connectivity and with the increasing social pressure to stay connected at all times, this social network with a twist is intriguing and brings with it a host of new questions regarding how networks work and perhaps also how they should work. For example, can your Counterpart make friends without your approval? And if it can, is the network even really ‘yours’ anymore? Will your Counterpart delete posts that you made that it deems unlike “you,” much like how one would delete posts posted by a mischievous friend? And is it really a connection if the only interaction you have with another person is through their Counterpart or vice versa? The site does not really address these question but instead asks us to “become eternal and leave a legacy behind.”

This relates to our Networks class because Eter9 is attempting to create a completely new kind of social network. Instead of having a person represent a node in the network, Eter9 represents each node with the user and its Counterpart. Each of those nodes are then not just connected to other users/Counterparts, but also to artificial beings. The nodes are also always online and connected to each other at all times, which is unlike¬†most networks.¬†If we were to analyze this network in class using graph theory, how would we classify each edge? Would we take into account only the real user interactions, or should we use the Counterparts’ too, even if they may be imperfect and not truly reflecting what their user intended?




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