Will 'digital resurrections' let us bring back the dead?
Humans have always looked for tangible ways to remember departed loved ones. We save letters and emails they wrote us. We look fondly at photos of them. We watch and rewatch old videos just to see their faces and hear them talk.
But the rise of digital technologies may soon give us even more compelling ways to remember lost friends and family. These include apps that let us text with digital representations of the dead — we’d type a message and then get some sort of comforting reply — and maybe even systems that let us speak with and possibly touch realistic avatars of the ones we miss most.
Maybe that sounds creepy, but some experts believe we’ll find comfort in continuing our interactions with people whose biological existences have come to an end.
“Many people visit the headstone of a loved one to help come to terms with their passing, and have a one-sided conversation where they think about the memory of them,” says Bruce Duncan, managing director of Terasem Movement Foundation, a Bristol, Vermont-based nonprofit that promotes digital resurrections. “Being able to have a two-way conversation with a digital version of them, where you can be reminded of their mannerisms or behavioral patterns in an interactive way, could become a natural part of the grieving process.”
Several companies, including Luka, a San Francisco-based startup, and research organizations including the MIT Media Lab, are working on digital resurrection technology.
It goes without saying that the digital version of a person is no match for the living, breathing human being. But scientists are experimenting with algorithms that can take a person's emails and text messages and use them to generate text messages that are at least evocative of a specific person. The messages can use emojis like the dead person once did. And with data pulled from the internet, the texts can even include back-and-forths about topical things like weather and current events.
In coming years, Duncan believes, there may be browser plug-ins capable of capturing an entire life’s worth of social media posts, emails, photos, and other digital data and using everything to approximate an individual’s personality, complete with values and opinions.
Digital resurrection technology is unlikely to stop with chatbots. Duncan and other experts foresee a time when we’ll be able to interact with lost loved ones not just via texts but in virtual reality.
“You’d be able to put on your virtual reality glasses and headset, and experience typical everyday situations with that person, like sitting at the breakfast table or taking a walk in a nearby park,” says Charlotte Runius, CEO of Fenix Begravning, a Stockholm, Sweden-based funeral planning agency that is working with AI experts to develop these technologies. “Hearing their voice and seeing them would allow you to actually feel like you’re next to the person again, and you can talk to them and get replies in a much more realistic way.”
By wearing a bodysuit and gloves studded with sensors and actuators, it might even be possible to interact physically with a realistic-looking avatar of a deceased person. The technology could monitor a living person’s movements, voice, and facial expressions and then later use them to direct an avatar to respond appropriately — perhaps by offering advice or giving a comforting hug.
The only snag with these scenarios is that much of the data used to resurrect someone would have to be collected while he or she was still alive — for instance, by having him or her speak a thousand or so words and be recorded on video.
What would it be like to interact with someone who's been brought back in digital form? Some experts say it could aid the grieving process. Others worry that interacting with a virtual representation of a person who is no longer alive would only intensify feelings of sadness and loss.
Duncan believes that, at least for most people, the experience will be akin to watching home movies and enjoying the memories that they trigger.
“Enjoying talking to past loved ones via digital media may eventually become the future version of looking through photographs of past events… It’s hard to predict the future, but just as we’ve adjusted to using Skype and cell phones I think we’ll consider it valuable to continue some connection with a person we care about.”
April 16, 2018
or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p><p>Raw video: Deputies called to Quality Inn in Sebring, Florida after an alligator was seen walking about; licensed trapper cornered the reptile and took it away.</p><p>An alligator was caught checking out rooms at a Quality Inn motel in Sebring, Florida, over the weekend. But officials with the Highlands County Sheriff's Office say the nearly 5-foot-long creature may have just been looking for the perfect spot to day drink.</p><p>The sheriff's office shared a 40-second video of the gator slowly making its way past a block of hotel rooms before turning a corner to head down another hall. Deputies called a licensed trapper who taped the gator's mouth shut, carried it to his truck and relocated it.</p><p>As of Monday afternoon, the video of the "partying" gator has received nearly 60,000 views and more than 1,400 shares on Facebook. Dozens of people were quick to crack jokes about the creature.</p><p> "Maybe he was just looking for the tiki bar to get a margatorita..."</p><p>"He’s getting ready for that BYOB," one user replied.</p><p>"Excuse me sir... i need to see some ID," another joked.</p><p>"Business as usual in Florida.." a local said.</p><p>Anyone who believes an alligator is posing a "threat to people, pets or property" should call FWC’s toll-free hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR, Snapp said.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p><p> The apparently loaded dice have two fives and two fours, instead of the numbers one and two. (Angela Weigand, UiB) </p><p>Cheating is as old as time itself, if the discovery of a mysterious 600-year-old dodgy dice is anything to go by.</p><p>The highly unusual wooden dice was found during excavations in the Norwegian city of Bergen. Featuring “two fives” and “two fours,” archaeologists believe that the dice was used to cheat in games.</p><p>Experts from the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) discovered the dice close to a wooden street that dates back to the 1400s in Vågsbunnen, a medieval district of Bergen.</p><p>The dice was found during an excavation in the Norwegian city of Bergen. (NIKU) </p><p>“It’s exciting to imagine this dice’s last game – was the cheater revealed?” wrote Rekkavik. “What happened to the dice? Was it perhaps thrown away by the nervous cheater eager to get rid of evidence? Or was it angrily thrown by an opponent, to where it ended up being found over 600 years later?”</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
launch today at 6:32 p.m. EDT from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and you can watch the action live right here (launch coverage will begin at 6 p.m. EDT).</p><p>Equipped with four specialized cameras, the $337 million satellite will have a field of view that covers 85 percent of the sky. This broad view will allow TESS to study about 20 million stars, according to Dr. George Ricker, the mission’s principal investigator and a scientist at the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts.</p><p>What will TESS find? Ricker said not knowing is what makes the mission so exciting. “If you go out with a very sensitive instrument and look in a completely unbiased way, you find stuff that is completely unexpected,” he said. “That’s to me what’s exciting.”</p><p>Like Kepler, TESS is designed to locate exoplanets by searching for what astronomers call transits. These are periodic dips in starlight that occur when a planet’s orbit takes it in front of its host star.</p><p>“With Kepler, we now know the planets exist, we have the size of the planets and in some cases, we have the masses,” said Dr. Stephen Rinehart, a project scientist for the mission at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “With TESS, we’re going to be able to get the masses for most of the planets and go the next step and study the composition of the atmospheres.”</p>
rotection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt put in his office has caused federal watchdogs to speak up loudly.</p><p>On Monday, the General Accountability Office sent an eight-page letter to Senate lawmakers reporting that the booth violated federal spending law that caps the amount a presidential appointee can spend on upgrading their office at $5,000 without notifying the Appropriations committees in the Senate and House beforehand.</p><p>GAO General Counsel Thomas Armstrong also wrote that the purchase violated the Antideficiency Act, "because EPA obligated appropriated funds in a manner specifically prohibited by law.”</p><p>Pruitt's EPA officials, though, had argued that the booth served a functional purpose: To allow Pruitt to receive calls from President Donald Trump "without concern that classified, deliberative, privileged or sensitive information might inadvertently be disclosed."</p><p>Armstrong's letter, however, rejected that claim that aesthetics were the only purview of the requirement of notifying Congress.</p><p>While EPA now argues there's too much energy being wasted on an investigation into the booth.</p><p>“The GAO letter ‘recognized the...need for employees to have access to a secure telephone line’ when handling sensitive information," EPA spokeswoman LIz Bowman said in a statement. "EPA is addressing GAO’s concern, with regard to Congressional notification about this expense, and will be sending Congress the necessary information this week.”</p>
or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p><p>A treasure trove has been uncovered in the eastern German island of Ruegen in the Baltic Sea. The find includes Hundreds of 1,000-year-old silver coins and jewelry. One of the rare jewels depict 'Thor's hammer.'</p><p>An incredible trove of silver treasure linked to the era of a famous Viking king has been discovered on an island in the Baltic Sea.</p><p>Archaeologists said about 100 of the silver coins are probably from the reign of Harald Gormsson, better known as "Harald Bluetooth," who lived in the 10th century and introduced Christianity to Denmark. The king, who earned his nickname on account of a dead tooth that appeared blue, is a significant historical figure who unified parts of Scandinavia.</p><p>Harald Bluetooth was one of the last Viking kings of what is now Denmark, northern Germany, southern Sweden and parts of Norway.</p><p>Jewelry and coins found near Schaprode on the northern German island of Ruegen in the Baltic Sea. (Stefan Sauer/dpa via AP) </p><p>Bluetooth wireless technology, invented by Swedish telecom company Ericsson to connect computers and wireless devices, is named after the king.</p><p>A single silver coin was first found in January by two amateur archaeologists, one of them a 13-year-old boy, in a field near the Ruegen village of Schaprode. The state archaeology office then became involved and the entire treasure was uncovered by experts over the weekend, the Mecklenburg-West Pomerania state archaeology office said Monday.</p><p>"It's the biggest trove of such coins in the southeastern Baltic region," archaeologists said, in a statement.</p><p>This April 13, 2018 photo shows medieval Saxonian, Ottoman, Danish and Byzantine coins found near Schaprode on the northern German island of Ruegen in the Baltic Sea. (Stefan Sauer/dpa via AP) </p><p>The Ruegen silver treasure is just the latest fascinating archaeological find from the Viking era. Last year, for example, an incredibly well-preserved Viking sword was found by a reindeer hunter on a remote mountain in Southern Norway. In 2016, archaeologists in Trondheim, Norway, unearthed the church where Viking King Olaf Haraldsson was first enshrined as a saint.</p><p>Also, in 2016, a tiny Viking crucifix was found in Denmark.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
. From the cosmic affairs desk, Dennis Overbye takes you on scenic tours through the Milky Way and beyond.</p>
or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p><p> An image from the Very Large Telescope's SPHERE instrument showing the dusty disk around the young star IM Lupi. (H. Avenhaus et al./ESO/DARTT-S collaboration) </p><p>Diverse disks of dusty material have been spotted around nearby young stars, suggesting new planets are sprouting up around the alien stars. </p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p><p> An erupting solar prominence on Aug. 31, 2012, imaged by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. (NASA/SDO/GSFC) </p><p>Giant plasma "tornadoes" raging across the surface of the sun don't actually spin like astronomers once thought, new research shows. </p><p>"We see tornado-like shapes in the images because of projection effects, where the line of sight information is compressed onto the plane of the sky," Labrosse said. </p><p>Instead, the new measurements using the Doppler effect add a third dimension to the data, allowing scientists to construct a more complete picture of the magnetic-field structure that supports the plasma, according to the statement. </p><p>"They are associated with the legs of solar prominences — these are beautiful concentrations of cool plasma in the very hot solar corona that can easily be seen as pink structures during total solar eclipses," Labrosse said in the statement.</p><p>"Perhaps for once, the reality is less complicated than what we see!" Brigitte Schmieder, co-author of the study and researcher from the Laboratory of Space Studies and Instrumentation in Astrophysics (LESIA) at l'Observatoire de Paris in France, added in the statement.</p><p>Their findings were presented Friday (April 6) at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science conference in Liverpool, England. </p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p><p> An artist's illustration of NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, which will search for small planets around nearby stars. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center) </p><p>TESS is designed to find planets orbiting nearby stars spread across the sky, astrophysicist and pioneering exoplanet researcher Sara Seager at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology told Space.com. The satellite is not specifically intended to look for planets that can support life, but it can find planets orbiting in the habitable zone of small stars, said Seager, who serves as a deputy science director on TESS.</p><p>"Twenty years ago, if you told me that we were going to do this kind of spectroscopy of atmospheres of planets around other stars, I would have said you're crazy," said Latham. "Now, we're doing it."</p><p>On the other hand, scientist may overlook signs of life that is radically different from us. "It's a little bit like the drunk looking for his keys — he looks under the lamppost, because that's where he can see them," Latham said. "We look for life that is similar to our own, because we think we understand the organic chemistry involved and so we think we know how to interpret [evidence for it]."</p><p>Shortly thereafter, scientists began to get enough data to hypothesize that many of those planets might be habitable. Over the past quarter-century, science has increasingly led scientists to believe that the existence of life may not be a miracle after all, Shostak said. And he said he sees no evidence that this trend will stop.</p><p>TESS will lead the way for a wealth of discoveries and deepen our understanding of many phenomena in the cosmos. "There's technical astrophysical issues that will interest a lot of the scientists in the community," said Latham, "but I think that the question that is going to catch the attention of the educated public is this big one: Are we alone?"</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
e of life’s happy-happies, like flowers and fresh fruit. “Report: It Would Probably Be Nice Having Friends,” read a recent headline in The Onion. Ha ha! Of course it’s “kind of fun” and “pretty cool” to “have a few select people in your life to do stuff with on a regular basis.”</p><p>Most people can name at least half a dozen people they view as reasonably good friends. The only society where people don’t have any friends, according to Daniel Hruschka, an evolutionary anthropologist at Arizona State University, is found in the science fiction of C.J. Cherryh’s “Foreigner” series.</p><p>Yet researchers who explore the deep nature of friendship admit the bond can have its thorns, bruise spots and pesticide traces.</p><p>Take the new evidence that people choose friends who resemble themselves, right down to the moment-to-moment pattern of blood flow in the brain. The tendency toward homophily, toward flocking together with birds of your inner and outer feather, gives rise to a harmonious sense of belonging and shared purpose, to easy laughter and volumes of subtext mutually, wordlessly, joyfully understood.</p><p>But homophily, researchers said, is also the basis of tribalism, xenophobia and racism, the urge to “otherize” those who differ from you and your beloved friends in one or more ways.</p><p>The impulse can yield absurd results. One recent study from the University of Michigan had subjects stand outside on a cold winter day and read a brief story about a hiker who was described as either a “left-wing, pro-gay-rights Democrat” or a “right-wing, anti-gay-rights Republican.”</p><p>“Why must it be the case that we love our own and hate the other?” Nicholas Christakis of Yale University said. “I have struggled with this, and read and studied a tremendous amount, and I have mostly dispiriting news. It’s awful. Xenophobia and in-group bias go hand-in-hand.”</p><p>Game theory models predict it, real-life examples confirm it. “In order to band together, we need a common enemy,” Dr. Christakis said.</p><p>Fortunately, he added, no model insists that the out-group must be exterminated or otherwise eliminated from the scene. “It’s possible to treat the out-group with mild dislike or even grudging respect,” he said. “Cultivating in-group distinctiveness does not require that the other must be killed.”</p><p>Nevertheless, even the ordinary business of making friends is an exclusionary act, a judgment call, and therefore threaded with the potential for pain.</p><p>“A friendship is always a little bit of a conspiracy,” said Alexander Nehamas, a professor of philosophy at Princeton. “We two are here, they are over there, and we’re going to do our thing whether they want us to or not.”</p><p>And if they try to join us, we can say, no, sorry, that seat is taken. We’re saving it for a friend.</p><p>Who may not return the favor. Abdullah Almaatouq of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his colleagues recently showed that people are poor judges of who their friends are.</p><p>Other studies have shown similar discordances or worse, with one survey revealing that 66 percent of supposed friendships were cases of unrequited like.</p><p>The overall rates of friendship conflict did not differ between men and women, but women were more likely to clash with close friends, to express feelings of anguish over the breakup, and to be more demanding of evidence of remorse before reconciling.</p><p>Sure, love may mean never having to say you’re sorry. But friendship is a stricter taskmaster, and sorry may not be enough.</p>