What legal status for avatars after death?

Digital claims to make this dream come true thanks to digital avatars animated in 3D with the figure of the deceased, possibly placed in an immersive virtual reality to make their perception stronger. “Conversational agents” are not enough to imitate the voice of the deceased, but are now able, thanks to artificial intelligence systems that analyze the data left by the deceased, to “create” discussions, attitudes, displays of emotions and “new” behaviors .

**Fanny Georges *”***Today, most people have accounts on digital social networks that have capitalized on a lot of information for years. What we found is that, after the death of users, these forms of representation of the person continue to represent people after their death, and users will comment, announce the death, and express memories on its pages.”

Such innovations lead us to the core of the digital’s promises, namely its ability to create on the one hand and, on the other, its claim to transcend death. But in dealing with such topics, the digital also confronts its limits: the body and the life that speaks. His Promethean promise may backfire by revealing the element of illusion upon which the entire digital project is based.

Judith Rochfeld “We have these immersive universes or these avatars of dead people that can be created, recreated, because it’s not meant to be an imitation, it’s meant to be a continuation with new discussions and interpretations of what the person can do.”

How does the law understand the virtual survival of dead persons? Should it give protection to parts of the personality or even recognize, as some recommend, a “compassionate residual personality”?

the spirit of justice will try to build this debate in the society of Fanny Georgessemiologist, lecturer in information and communication sciences at the University of Sorbonne Nouvelle, specialized in digital identities, avatars and self-representation, author of numerous articles specifically related to digital identity after death, and Judith Rochfeldprofessor of law at the Sorbonne Law School, Paris-1 University, Sorbonne Legal Research Institute, author of numerous books and in particular an article entitled: ” Avatars of Eternity. Towards young people left compassionate? » appeared in a book of mixes in honor of Professor Catherine Labrusse.

Fanny Georges “The principle of these digital avatars is that from the data entered during the life of the users, the algorithm will interpret this data and simulate a behavior that corresponds to that of the supposed living.”

Judith Rochfeld “Lawyers should deal with this topic, because in fact, at the moment, we are faced not completely with a void, but with a lack of answers. We have to build them because the GDPR, the famous general data protection regulation, since we are talking about a construction that is based on the personal data of the living for after their death is incomplete at this point. the regime, the legal rules , records of deceased persons.”

For further

Fanny Georges “From the point of view of semiology, we will consider that a 3D space, as soon as it allows a spatial experience, will provoke in the mind, in the interpretation of the subject, an experience quite similar to the real one. […] And these digital immortality projects, since it is really about digital immortality, propose devices that present these forms of digital immortality as a concrete reality.

Judith Rochfeld “French law has a very interesting feature, in Europe, as it has organized a form of ‘digital succession’. In this case, it is about an extension of personality or the desire to extend personality. And French law is one of the few . laws have attempted to do so.”

References cited

The best of worlds


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New Waves


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Fanny Georges “We have been able to observe, on digital social networks, that people often discover information about the loved one, if only through public comments left on digital social networks, and therefore reveal an often unsuspected aspect of the person during life his. , if only by discovering that he frequented certain social circles or certain places…”

Judith Rochfeld “Beyond the human person, which obviously has its own specificity, we have a function of the legal person that goes beyond the human person. So the law knows how to do this! Do you want it for people who have no body? At the moment being, the reflex that I see or foresee is really to go towards parts of the personality out of respect for living people.

Musical fragments

  • Selected piece by Fanny Georges :”

    Others” by M83 – Album: “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming” (2011).

  • Selected piece by Judith Rochfeld :”

    Where are we now?by David Bowie (2013).

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