Digital Eternity Feels Hellish


by Tim Moran

Using the digital world to make yourself and your personal information "eternal" is an idea that crops up every now and then (as with Legacy Locker, which lets you store passwords and entrust each of your online accounts to a beneficiary).

Now comes Virtual Eternity, the catch phrase for which is "Forever Made Possible." This one is not yet fully baked.

It's the brainchild of Intellitar, and, according to a recent release, allows users to create digital clones that will exist perpetually on a wide range of platforms. These "intellitars" are based on a user's image; they are said to move, talk, and think--more on that in a minute--just like you, "thereby giving users the gift of immortality." A digital Dorian Gray, if you will.

One of the first applications in which these intellitars star is Virtual Eternity--a so-called "living scrapbook that makes forever possible by allowing present and future generations to interact with friends and family members in perpetuity via their digital clone."

So one makes one's intellitar digital clone so the grandchildren and beyond can interact as if you are still around. Sweet. A visit to the site, which I strongly suggest, makes you wonder if you really want your descendants to see you in this shape. While, in the main, the avatar's face looks somewhat real and normal, there are two aspects of it that are terribly disturbing--if not downright ridiculous. First, the mouth. You know how it looks when they try to make rabbits or horses or speak in movies and the mouth looks clearly grafted in via CGI or some such? Well, that's how the mouth looks when the avatar speaks--it is truly weird and comical. Second, the voice. Your intellitar has the same voice as the Xtranormal video animals (are they bears?), just the way you want to be remembered sounding.

When I visited the site, I was immediately accosted by Lynn, an intellitar who is there to show you around. She looks a bit like Shirley Jones--way after her Partridge Family days. We had this interaction: Lynn: I am here to help you navigate VirtualEternity.com.

Visitor: what does this do?

Lynn: I just wanted to see if you were paying attention.

Visitor: I am, so what's next

Lynn: There are many reasons why someone would choose to create an intellitar or digital clone. Legacy creation and preservation for one. By creating an intellitar and telling my life story and experiences, you can leave the most memorable and lasting legacy of all... you!

Visitor: And who will be able to see. . . me?

Lynn: To check out the most recent news and forums with Virtual Eternity or Intellitar Inc., click the "News" button on the toolbar above.

Visitor: Is there anything important you would like to tell me?

Lynn: We are located at 475 Providence Main, Suite 402, Huntsville, Alabama.

Visitor: Thanks so much

Lynn: You're welcome.

Just a little bit of this felt like an eternity, so you can imagine what actual eternity might feel like.