Future photos

Back in the old days, even famous people could appear only as a hand-rendered drawing, painting, etching or sculpture. If a person was dead, you could never be sure exactly how they really looked when alive.

Then, after around 1839, images of famous people could be captured photographically, without the need for manual rendering. Long even after someone was dead, you could indeed see exactly how they used to look, by looking at their photo.

Eventually this ability to capture, for all time, the fragile and fleeting nature of life extended to movement, when moving pictures were introduced.

Now that we are all getting used to Generative AI, it is not difficult to envision a time when the equivalent of a “photograph” will be a lifelike 3D representation of a person that you can have a conversation with. This virtual person will respond to any questions you have with the general manner and opinions of the original.

During such interactions, the person’s facial movements, body language and vocal inflections will be faithfully reproduced. You will quickly be able to get an accurate sense of their personality, even if they died long before you were born.

I wonder what this form of representation will be called. Maybe it will just be called a photograph.

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