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Introducing the Posthumous Specification (PS)

A New Way To Preserve Your Voice for Future AI Interactions


In the age of rapidly evolving artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, it has become increasingly easy for AI to emulate human voices and speech patterns. This poses an intriguing question: how can we ensure that the deceased are represented fairly and accurately when an AI speaks on their behalf? To address this concern, I'm proposing a new specification called the Posthumous Specification (PS) that will allow individuals to define their preferences regarding what they would and would not say after their death, in the event that someone asks an AI to speak on their behalf.



The Need for the Posthumous Specification


With the advent of AI technology, there is an increased risk of misrepresentation of the deceased's beliefs, values, and preferences. This can be distressing for family members and friends who may feel that their loved one's voice is being exploited or misrepresented. To mitigate these concerns and honor the memory of the deceased, the PS aims to provide a framework that ensures the ethical use of AI in posthumous communication.



Key Considerations for the PS

  1. Personalized Directive: The PS allows individuals to create a personalized directive specifying their communication preferences, including topics they are comfortable discussing, opinions they held, and any specific guidelines they would like the AI to follow. This can be updated throughout their lifetime, ensuring that the AI's representation remains accurate and up-to-date.

  2. Legal Recognition: For the PS to be effective, it must be recognized legally as a binding document. This will ensure that AI developers and users adhere to the directives provided by the deceased and respect their communication preferences.

  3. Privacy and Security: The PS must be stored securely to protect individuals' privacy (if desired) and to prevent unauthorized modification.

  4. Open Standard: The PS should be designed as an open standard to encourage widespread adoption by AI developers and users. This will ensure compatibility across various AI platforms and applications.

  5. AI Ethics Compliance: AI platforms must be designed to adhere to ethical guidelines and consider the implications of posthumous communication. This includes respecting the directives outlined in the PS and ensuring that the AI does not misrepresent or exploit the deceased's voice.

To implement the PS effectively, collaboration among AI developers, legal professionals, and ethicists is crucial. This will involve refining the technical specifications, establishing legal frameworks, and fostering public awareness about the importance of posthumous communication preferences.



The PS.TXT File (think robots.txt)


Until there is a legal framework and industry buy-in, individuals may decide to implement a form of PS now by publishing a file (e.g. ps.txt) on their own website, and it could look something like this:


These are provided as examples. Obviously, there is a great deal of flexibility, and individuals can add freeform specifications as they deem appropriate. For instance, one could list all their role models, favorite books, etc... Creating a template that people could fill in would be quite simple, similar to what they referred to as a "Slang Book" in the '80s. Remember that this does not have to be presented in a structured (e.g. JSON) format; as of 2023, AI can handle English (or any other language) specifications and pseudocode.



Conclusion


The Posthumous Specification has the potential to revolutionize the way we interact with AI on behalf of deceased individuals. By enabling people to specify their communication preferences, we can ensure that their voices are accurately represented and that their memories are honored with dignity and respect. As AI technology continues to advance, it is crucial that we address the ethical challenges it presents, and the PS is a significant step in that direction.


Here is my file as of April 2, 2023: ps.txt


It is signed using the public key fingerprint: 07CBF7BD7B128F61. If you need help signing your ps.txt in a publicly verifiable way, please email me at gpg@charlesblas.com.

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