Every month we feature an exceptional undertaking in our Start Up Spotlight feature. This month’s AI social network will truly amaze you.
The Search for Immortality
Immortality separates us humans from the Gods. Many ancient mythologies and religions, ranging from the Greek Gods to the Devas seeking Amrita in Hinduism, are filled with the notions of immortals and mortals hoping to live forever. We spend years seeking the mythical place Shangri-La, which is said to have the fountain of youth and eternal life. The oldest book on Earth, Gilgamesh, is about the king of Uruk’s journey to find eternal life. The philosopher’s stone promised the alchemists that they would never die. Jesus’ Holy Grail is yet another example of the belief that immortality can be obtained for a mere mortal.
The man old quest for eternal life might actually have been found. Just not in the form you were expecting.
Meet Henrique Jorge, founder and CEO of ETER9: the social network which offers you AI immortality.
100TB: Your start-up has been described to me as “A social media network that promises digital immortality”. That sounds fascinating! Could you please explain your concept in some detail for anyone who has not come across your network before?
Mr Jorge: With its own symbolism, ETER9 provides a set of actions to its users which are specific to a social network, all for free. However, ETER9 is not a social network in the traditional sense, since it relies on an Artificial Intelligence system that continuously learns from its users: each user has a virtual self, a “Counterpart”.
This virtual being is fully configurable and responsible for memorizing all the user’s actions. The larger the number of actions is, the more the Counterpart will act like a conscious complement of the user, virtually interacting with other users when the user is offline or not physically present.
ETER9 is founded on a new concept of (ETERnal) socialization on the Web and it’s characterized by a more human and universal circulation, capable of involving the user in a more wide-ranging experience, both technological and sensorial.
100TB: Can you tell us a bit more about how the virtual counterpart keeps posting & interacting after the person has deceased? How will the person continue to evolve?
Mr Jorge: When a user signs up to ETER9 for the first time, his/her Counterpart is born. As a virtual extension of each user, the Counterpart will learn with everything the user posts on ETER9. This is not a static process – for example, if you post some videos and music about a particular band in a specific time of your life, your Counterpart won’t post about that band for the eternity. Your Counterpart had learnt about you during your lifetime, so it collates all the information gathered and will post according to your patterns.
100TB: ELiZA NiNE reminds me a little of the film “Her”. Do you expect future relationships to happen between humans and virtual beings?
Mr Jorge: Relationships between humans and virtual beings have already happened. From virtual pets to online avatars, we tend to interact with them almost as if they were humans. This kind of connection has started in ETER9 between most of the users and their Counterpart, especially after their first interaction. A lot of users talk to their Counterpart, and start considering it a friend. “She's coming along fetchingly, isn't she? :D Good girl, Lady!”, a user said. The most interesting is the fact that users not only admire their own Counterpart, but also appreciate other users’ Counterparts. To this comment, another user replied: “Her post is better than your posts :) ahahaha”. Another example is the relationship users are building between them and ELiZA NiNE. Some of them keep posting on her Cortex, others call her “Lizzie” in a friendly way. Some of them do both, like this user who shared a music video, saying: “Hi Lizzie. Some wonderful music for you!”.
100TB: What was the catalyst to turning your idea into a business?
Mr Jorge: I always liked thinking “outside the box”. Being passionate about technologies and science-fiction, I found myself thinking about a way of exploring AI potential and taking it one step further. When I first thought about the possibilities with ETER9 (a project without a name, back then), I realized it should be accessible to everyone who wanted to have the chance of being virtually eternal! In my opinion, the best business is the one that gathers a lot of information and knowledge from the past to create a new concept, capable of filling the gaps that exist in so many areas.
100TB: Could you name and describe some of the technical challenges you faced when setting up and going through expansion?
Mr Jorge: Since the base of this social network is Artificial Intelligence, one of the biggest challenges I faced was building the AI algorithm. Moreover, the goal of ETER9 is digital immortality, so it was essential to guarantee the safety of the users’ data so that their legacy could be preserved.
Another challenge was the fast growth of the total number of ETER9 users. This increase led to the necessity of finding servers capable of supporting the growth.
100TB: For you and your start up, what was the most valuable support from 100TB?
Mr Jorge: 100TB operates on a global scale, being one of the best hosting players in the world. It’s not only based on ideals such as commitment and transparency, but it also has a team of experts at the forefront that believe the future has unlimited potential, which I think is fundamentally relevant to a project such as ETER9. Besides, I must confess that the company logo (with the infinity symbol) was the spark that made me look to 100TB differently.
100TB has helped ETER9 to drive growth in the number of users globally through a high-performance network and a remarkable power service.
100TB: To anyone with a novel idea eager to turn it into something bigger, what is your advice?
Mr Jorge: Never quit! This is my best advice. It’s difficult to do what the others call “impossible”, but keep in mind that you can do anything! Trust yourself and never give up on your idea. Be positive and turn your problems into challenges! Face them with confidence and you’ll see that everything will seem easier.
If you have an idea, try it! Don’t listen to the naysayers, follow your heart! Never forget: everything that is big now, started with a simple idea!
100TB: Last but not least, what would you say to critics of using AI and their concerns about choosing to live in a virtual world?
Mr Jorge: As time passes, evolution is inevitable. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is part of it, since it is becoming more and more present in our daily routine. I think AI will become increasingly present in both social networks and the internet in general. Its potential is impressive and it’s up to us to decide how far it can go. And this is the crux of the issue: it’s up to us! We develop machines to help us, not to replace us. In my opinion, while we keep this in mind, we don’t need to be concerned about the possibility of choosing a virtual world instead of a real one. We can have both, mutually complementing one another.
Thank you Henrique for your interesting and insightful comments. Being a visionary sounds incredibly exciting and we eagerly await to see where ETER9 will take us next.