A Second Life for Einstein?

From The Cycles of Innovation, here’s a follow-on to my last post on getting inside the simulation:

Imagine having a discussion with Isaac Newton or Albert Einstein on the nature of the universe, where their 3-D, life-sized representations looked you in the eye, examined your body language, considered voice nuances and phraseology of your questions, then answered you in a way that is so real you would swear the images were alive.This was an opening scene from an episode of the TV show “Star Trek” almost a decade and a half ago. A new research project between the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Central Florida in Orlando may soon make such imaginary conversations a reality.

Technology from computer games, animation and artificial intelligence provide the elements to make this happen.

“The goal is to combine artificial intelligence with the latest advanced graphics and video game-type technology to enable us to create historical archives of people beyond what can be achieved using traditional technologies such as text, audio and video footage,” said Jason Leigh, associate professor of computer science and director of UIC’s Electronic Visualization Laboratory. Leigh is UIC’s lead principal investigator.

EVL will build a state-of-the-art motion-capture studio to digitalize the image and movement of real people who will go on to live a virtual eternity in virtual reality. Knowledge will be archived into databases. Voices will be analyzed to create synthesized but natural-sounding “virtual” voices. Mannerisms will be studied and used in creating the 3-D virtual forms, known technically as avatars.

…Leigh sees a commercial market for preserving virtual people whose critical or unique knowledge is vital to operations of corporations and other institutions.

UIC News Release

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