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#002 AI doppelgängers

"Discover how AI doppelgängers are revolutionising our approach to work, mental health, and daily interactions, shaping a future where virtual replicas may dominate our digital and real-world engagements."



Welcome to "It's a Healthusiasm World", a newsletter on Health, Business and Technology by Christophe Jauquet.

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Last week, I stumbled upon several articles that pointed in the direction of AI doppelgängers. These virtual replicas function as individual entities with whom you can interact as if they were humans. An innovation that will impact our Healthusiasm in the years to come.

The first article appeared in Politico. It wrote that Martin Seligman, a notable American psychologist, was created by a Chinese student, Yukun Zhao, as a virtual AI version of himself. This happened without Martin's initial consent. This development reflects a growing trend of AI chatbots modelled on real people. Seligman and Esther Perel, another mental health professional unknowingly replicated, did not take legal actions (yet) against their AI counterparts despite legal ambiguities around such digital replications. This scenario raises ethical and legal questions, particularly as AI technology outpaces regulation. The US Congress is considering the NO FAKES Act. At the same time, the EU Artificial Intelligence Act was made to address such unauthorised digital replicas. But global enforcement remains a challenge. The AI versions aim to extend the reach of their human originals' work, particularly in areas like mental health, but profit from someone else's.

Sam Liang, CEO of Otter, a transcription and automated note-taking service, envisions AI work avatars attending meetings instead of humans, potentially operational by later this year. These AI doppelgängers could handle participation, note-taking, and queries. Liang suggests they might answer 90% of workplace questions, seeking human input when necessary. The development still needs to undergo several stages to blend knowledge with emotional intelligence. Your personal AI Avatar is intended to boost your productivity by freeing up time. However, there are, of course, concerns about workplace isolation, especially among younger employees.

And there are indeed concerns around these AI doppelgängers, as you may have seen in recent news: deep fakes of US President Biden calling voters and Trump's late father calling him a disgrace in a video. These examples are not yet close to the real thing but show a shift. If presidential elections 8 years ago were manipulated through social media, AI doppelgängers are now taking up that load (as well). This technology is clearly the direction we are going in.

The Healthusiasm Take

You may have also experienced this: You have a one-to-one online meeting with someone, but two 'people' seem to be in the waiting room. But then you realise Otter is that 'second' person. Already today, some people use an integrated, paying version of Otter to transcribe the discussion of the meeting. This somehow or somewhat feels weird. I'm still getting used to it, even though I'm an avid user of Otter myself. Now imagine that the (natural) person you've invited is not even there anymore. Instead, you are interacting with his personal AI avatar.

This may sound too futuristic for now. But knowing that there are more smartphones than humans in the world, based on these articles, it's not too difficult to imagine a future where there will be more AI döppelgangers than actual humans. The apparent result would be that we will have more interactions with such doppelgänger technologies. As Otter's CEO, Sam Liang, explained, looking at it from a positive perspective, this could bring more productivity. It could speed up information gathering and decision-making in companies.

These technologies could also facilitate broader access to information or support. Like with the case of AI Seligman and AI Perel, more people would be able to share their struggles with and learn from these acclaimed mental health professionals. Suppose these AI doppelgängers are trained with the medical knowledge of certain medical professionals. In that case, it democratises the best medical knowledge, insights, and recommendations in a similar way as has already happened in education. Online courses allow people from anywhere worldwide to be educated by the most prominent AI professors. In many universities, students can swap the local course with an online course as part of the official curriculum. And that is possible with basic technologies that provide online meetings or distribute recorded classes.

Knowing that 175 million searches on Google are health-related (=5% of all searches), it's not difficult to imagine people's huge interest in such medically trained AI doppelgängers. Who would not want to have interactions with one of the best physicians in the world for a particular disease area or at least his AI doppelgänger?

Related Life Aspiration:

People yearn to be aware and comprehend things. The Life Aspiration for consciousness is definitely being met with these AI doppelgängers. But it may cause some obvious concern as it might make the Life Aspiration for 'realness' and 'meaningful contacts' more relevant. In a world filled with artificial [fill in the noun of preference], the yearning for authenticity and human contact will only become more critical. And much like social media may connect you to your friends, the lack of real connections has led to the biggest loneliness epidemic ever. As AI doppelgängers start taking up a chunk of our daily interactions, reflecting upon their human impact will be essential.


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Author & Speaker on health, business & technology.

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