Family members could be kept alive forever virtually so that living relatives could interact with their avatars, an academic has suggested.

Simon McKeown, a Reader in Animation and Post Production at Teesside University, claims that within 50 years computers will be advanced enough that they can create ‘synthetic digital life’ based upon people’s past movements, preferences and history on social media.

The avatars would be created using a process called ‘photogrammetry’ which can accurately reconstruct a virtual 3D shape of a human being from existing photographs and video. Computer voice synthesis, will take account local and regional accents to deliver a more accurate representation of what they sounded like.

The digital lifeform would also be linked up to social networks and large databases so they would be kept ‘up to date’ with their relative’s activities and could communicate with them about their day.

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