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Me is Everywhere, All at Once

Here is a small scenario worth considering. 


In the next few years, you have the ability to create a photorealistic digital avatar of yourself that speaks with a voice that sounds like you.  As a bot, it’s able to converse with you in real-time, moving with a lot of the mannerisms you display.  Having access to your entire graph of digital correspondence, written work, and past behavior in meetings on Teams or Zoom, it can do a decent job of responding as you would in a given situation, with the information you’ve created or shared in the past.


What do you use this virtual altar ego for?  Well, standing in for you in meetings, of course.  It can take notes, answer questions, suggest ideas, and relay to you action items.  Importantly, you can set parameters for what commitments it could make on your behalf.  You could probably also set its mood or style: more relaxed or more assertive today?


And if you can send a digital alter ego to one meeting, why wouldn’t you send copies to lots of different meetings that happen to be occurring at the same time?


Your alter egos would also be able to seamlessly reach back to you if something in one meeting comes up that genuinely requires your attention (attendance).  You could then quickly dial in and participate.


Society will, of course, evolve new norms around this.  We can anticipate meeting organizers flagging invitations as “Real You Required” or “Avatars OK.”  There will probably also be an “Avatars Preferred” option that will be surprisingly popular…


So, lots of meetings going on daily, with various mixes of real people and avatars.  People interacting naturally with digital altar egos, avatars interacting with other avatars.  Everyone with small armies of machines acting as surrogates, running interference, and – hopefully – allowing individuals to attend to more of what is important and less of what is not.


And of course, why would people stop there?  There will be strong incentives to have our digital altar egos handle contacting service providers and contractors, collecting information, filing support tickets, and pestering them until we get satisfaction.  Imagine the glee on the part of millions of customers unleashing their unceasing, undeterred avatars against the maddening customer service bots set in place to keep customers at bay.




As always, hit us up if you want your team to explore this and other similar scenario forecasts.



Note: As a forecast, this scenario proceeds in part from an emerging issue VFS identified years ago, “Persistent, Virtual Alter Ego.”  it is also built on the trends in artificial intelligence, and in particular the advancing applications we have been calling “deep fakes.”  It builds upon the currently available interactive virtual characters and explores how these might be layered into the already-existing digital avatars in meeting platforms like Microsoft Teams.  It loops in the already-existing AI functions in these programs to do things like transcribe and identify action items, which themselves have been created because people are already over-tasked with meetings and communication.  It also assumes people will continue to look for ways to “do” more while having to labor on fewer things.

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