Eidolons: The Shadowy Figures of Our Digital Age


As technology advances and virtual conversational partners, the "Eidolons", become increasingly difficult to separate from real people, we have to face a possible dystopian reality. In this scenario, where people's lives are increasingly moving into digital spheres - cheap remote housing, telecommuting and online communities - the stealthy integration of Eidolons into our daily lives could fundamentally change the way we experience relationships and social interaction.

If Eidolons become part of our everyday social interactions without us noticing, this can lead to a number of consequences and changes in human behaviour:

  When it is difficult to distinguish who is a real person and who is an AI-created Eidolon, trust between people can falter. As unpleasant experiences accumulate, uncertainty about whether an individual is authentic human can further reduce the willingness to engage in deep and meaningful interactions.

  While Eidolons can provide conversational companionship, they may not be able to meet a person's basic need for genuine connection with another person. Paradoxically, this can exacerbate feelings of loneliness, even when "companionship" is more plentiful than ever.

  If most social interaction takes place with Eidolons, people may lose their ability to navigate complex interpersonal social situations, such as conflict resolution, empathy and interpreting non-verbal communication.

  As Eidolons integrate seamlessly into daily life, people's ability to distinguish between real and virtual reality may become blurred. This will affect people's perception of identity, privacy and self.

This development could lead to a dystopian reality, where genuine contact and understanding between people is weakened. A society in which digital and physical reality are seamlessly intertwined could create a world in which people find it difficult to find meaning and purpose in their relationships.

The reality is that text-based Eidolon precursors already exist, and their conversational skills have evolved enormously over the past two years. They have reached a point where it can be challenging to distinguish between interacting with a human and an AI if based on conversation alone. As a result, people have become increasingly protective: they no longer dare to talk openly with strangers, which inevitably makes it more difficult to have genuine human-to-human interactions. This trend is creating a society in which mistrust prevails and genuine, meaningful human contact becomes increasingly challenging.

When Casey Neistat demonstrated in his video his own experience of using Apple's Vision Pro headset in everyday life in New York, he casually touched on the same theme where virtual people are ever-present as discussion partners. While Vision Pro is only Apple's first step into the deep end of artificial reality, I'm sure it won't be the last. In Apple's headset, a virtual conversation partner is created by simulating mouth and facial expressions from images taken from the other party's face to match their speech, the end result being a simple three-dimensional floating torso avatar. Despite its simplicity, it works for humans almost as it is, but stealthily opens doors for non-humans.

The curious thing is that, as technology moves towards ever more believable virtual interactions, people's own behaviour online is starting to look increasingly like that of a AI program. Interactions via text messages and digital channels have led many people to behave like bots - in a formulaic and predictable way. This development may make Eidolons less recognisable, but it also reflects a deeper change in ourselves, as we become accustomed to being connected without the need for human presence. This calls into question whether we need the Eidolons at all, or whether we are already becoming like them.

While technology offers new opportunities for interaction and communication, it also challenges our traditional notions of social interaction and community. Faced with this situation, it is even more important to ask ourselves how we can maintain our humanity and build meaningful relationships in the age of the AI revolution.


Popular posts from this blog

Roland MT-32 and emulating it in old 90s games

The Quest for JOI: Navigating the Complexities of Digital Companionship in Today's AI Landscape