TEDx: Saying hello to your future self

In November 2017, I had the privilege of presenting a TEDx talk.

Entitled “Saying hello to your future self”, the talk looked at how it will be possible to create proxies of yourself that can represent and undertake work on your behalf.

As a teenage geek, I had it in my mind that in my lifetime I would be able to download my brain into a computer – either as a back-up or eternal life (?!).

The number of synapses in a human brain far exceeds the computational capability of recording a snapshot and implementing a functional copy. Re-addressing the problem as one of data transfer, it can be inferred that only useful data could make the task achievable – and that ‘useful’ data could be transferred via means other than a skull cap and brain scan. Simply typing out some memories, a conversational style and some vocals would, in essence, allow a simple model of ‘Jon 2.0’

With this premise, I created a chatbot using my memories, a speech synthesizer using my voice and simple animation using my face. This was paired with a speech-to-text interpreter, allowing me to interview myself onstage.

Quick stage changes, acoustic deficiencies and tech fail meant that the ‘interview’ demonstration didn’t go as well as intended – I had to repeat my questions several times – BUT the point being made was this is future tech. If I can knock this up as a quick demo, then it will certainly see some pick up in the coming years.

The talk is available to view on Youtube or on the TED site here:  https://www.ted.com/talks/jon_howard_saying_hello_to_your_future_self

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