As we continue to exponentially march towards the future, how we use advanced science and technology will become increasingly complex, if not in ways of which appear almost magical. The question we should be asking ourselves: how far can we go? One tech. company believes they’ll be able to resurrect the deceased using artificial intelligence (A.I.), nanotechnology, and cryonics – 30 years from now! Yep. You read that right
Interview originally published on Serious Wonder on November 9 2015
Humai, a company founded in Los Angeles, California by entrepreneur Josh Bocanegra, doesn’t just want to help engineer strong A.I., but wishes to use their developments in the technology to someday bring people back from the dead. Crazy? Perhaps, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
To learn more about this new and exciting company,Serious Wonder decided to speak with Bocanegra and get to the bottom of all of this. Though we still ponder that ceaseless question – how far can we go? – as soon as our conversation was completed, we left with a sense of awe and curiosity.
Q: Hello Josh. It’s a pleasure to meet you. First thing’s first, what can you tell us about Humai in terms of why you started the company and what its goals are?
A: I started Humai because I felt we needed more people working on bigger problems. I’m inspired by the emerging technologies that extend human life. I think the time is right. It will take decades to accomplish, but we’re in it for the long run.
We essentially would like to merge cryonic technology with nanotechnology to create an artificial body that is controlled by your brain. The nanotechnology we’re helping to develop will repair the cells destroyed in the brain after death. Cryonics is the low-temperature preservation of animals and humans who cannot be sustained by contemporary medicine, with the hope that healing and resuscitation through future medical technology may be possible.
We’re currently forming teams of scientists, researchers and specialists with diverse backgrounds of study, to reach our goal – to resurrect a human within 30 years.
Q: There are a number of companies today whom are attempting to engineer strong A.I. What is it about Humai that you believe will differentiate itself from every other A.I. company?
A: I’m pleased that many companies are working on strong A.I., and I’m happy to collaborate with others to achieve common goals, but I believe we need to experiment with different approaches. With that being said, I think the main difference between us and most A.I. companies is our approach. We’re combining A.I. and nanotechnology with cryonics to bring humans back to life. Most A.I. companies are focused on the virtual version of ourselves after we die. I’m personally not inspired by that as a main focus, although we are working on a similar project under Humai.
“I don’t think tombstones, photos, videos, or even our own memories are the best ways to remember someone who has passed. Instead, I think an artificially intelligent version of your loved one, whom you can interact with via text and voice, is more desirable.” - Josh Bocanegra
Q: Your emphasis on using A.I. to help provide a backup copy, of sorts, for those whom are deceased is certainly an interesting prospect. How exactly do you expect to achieve this and what do you believe will be the general response from people as the years go by?
A: We’re actually using A.I. for a few purposes. We want to build A.I. into nanotechnology that can emulate how our bodies function with the brain. Soon, we’re going to be using A.I. to extract data from our members that will be used to analyze and store information – all for the purpose of building your profile in our system.
As we find ways to truly resurrect the human, we will be working on various other groundbreaking projects. For example, an A.I. application called “Soul,” which is an artificial replica of a deceased person’s voice and personality. The app will collect and learn the behavioral, speaking, and expressive patterns from the person for a number of years before they die. With the retrieved information the app aims to create each persona as authentic as possible. There are no limits.
I don’t think tombstones, photos, videos, or even our own memories are the best ways to remember someone who has passed. Instead, I think an artificially intelligent version of your loved one, whom you can interact with via text and voice, is more desirable. Rather than visiting a grave, you’ll use software to interact with your loved one.
Q: Don’t you find this method as being in conflict with the more recent increase in longevity medical research – research that is attempting to keep the human body alive and young, as opposed to dying and allowing an “artificial” copy to take over?
A: I really love the idea of essentially tweaking our DNA for a better body, but I’m just not impressed with our biological functions overall. Our eyesight, hearing, sense of touch, etc. are all limited. I think an artificial body that is customizable will contribute more to the human experience.
I also see interesting commercial uses for artificial bodies and body parts too. Imagine if Apple went into the artificial eye business? Eyes with software updates, better hardware, features, etc.
Q: When can we expect something – a product, perhaps, or service – from Humai for people to start benefiting from?
A: We’re starting a membership program soon that will enable us to create in-depth profiles of our members. Basically, the more data you feed us, the more information we’ll have to work with after you die. So we’re creating applications to help do that.
Our first milestone will be project “Soul.” You can expect to see an app before the year 2017.
Q: Is there any final advice or thoughts that you might have for Serious Wonder’s readers that you’d like to share?
A: Many of us dream about what the future would look like. I think if you’re inspired by these dreams, that’s your cue to help create it.