My CyberTwin: The First Step to Skynet?

Loraine Lawson

If it's been a while since technology frightened you, then bepob over to My CyberTwin. This site allows you to create an electronic twin that can -- get this -- chat online on your behalf 24/7.


The parent company -- Relevance Now -- offers a prototype named CyberTwin Erica, but you have to register to chat with her. Since it's free, I spent the two minutes to set up a log-in and tried it out.


Wouldn't you know by the time I did all that just to chat with CT Erica, she was unavailable? I kid you not. Apparently, CyberTwin Erica is already so big on the Internet, she has no time for newbies.


At this point you're no doubt asking, "Why should I - a busy IT leader - care about this?" And rightly so.


Obviously, there's the instant Geek Capital you'll gain by simply knowing about it. But beyond that, CyberTwins does promise a smidgeon of business promise. The creators hope businesses will use it as a fun tool for answering common customer questions on blogs, message boards or via e-mail. They also think it's a natural fit for conducting interactive customer surveys.


The question is: Will comments made by your CyberTwin be legally binding?


I'm not sure how I feel about an online twin representing me in a Lost chat room, much less in a business venture. But it is fun and a wee bit edgy. It might work well for a small business with a quirky sense of humor.


Did I mention it's free?


As for the scary part, once I'd played around with CyberTwin, I was a lot less intimidated. If they can find a way for it to learn through content and context -- such as logging information from your blog posts -- then it'd have some real potential as a business tool and an online twin, should you want one.


As it is, the current alpha is fairly simple. Primarily, it regurgitates your typed-in answers to generic IM questions given during the training session. For example, it can tell someone one of your three favorite movies -- provided you answered that question during training -- and why you picked that particular movie.


If it doesn't know something, it tells you it's still being trained by its "owner." That said, one CyberTwin did tell me it didn't know its owner's favorite book, but added its favorite book is "I, Robot" by Isaac Asimov.


Since that's about a robot killing a human, I was a bit creeped out. So, I asked it what is Asimov's First Law of Robotics.


It didn't know. Since I was feeling a bit "Cheeky, Down to Earth," as the CyberTwin folks might say, I typed in, "And then Skynet became self-aware," and waited for a response.


The cursor just sat there blinking, with "CyberTwin S is thinking" below the prompt.


It never did respond. And I confess: I'm a bit afraid it may still be thinking.

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