As technology advances, the ability to produce digital renderings of real people that look, sound, and communicate just like them is advancing rapidly. Platforms such as Metahumans, D-ID, People AI and ElevenLabs make it trivial to create these high-fidelity synthetic humans.
It's not difficult to imagine a future where a lifelike virtual representation (your very own digital twin) responds to calls or attends meetings on your behalf, offering you efficiency and convenience. As Bill Gates put it "like having a white-collar worker available to you." But what if you were working for them - or at least the future-you that they represent?
Recently, whilst developing a product vision for a wealth management startup, we discovered an interesting academic paper. The study found that participants who interacted with their virtual future selves exhibited an increased tendency to accept later monetary rewards over immediate ones. As the authors put it:
"An imagined self may be uncertain, vague, and probabilistic; in contrast, a computerised rendering is definite and specific...[and] renderings created by an objective forecasting model may be viewed as more authoritative."
HERSHFIELD, GOLDSTEIN, SHARPE & FOX, 2011
Connectedness with the future self
There's something fascinating about the notion of connecting with your future self. "What would you tell your younger self?" is a staple of celebrity interviews. The once controversial face-ageing FaceApp has been downloaded over 100 million times and the site Future Me has sent over 20 million emails to its users' futures.
Forward looking financial simulations are a mainstay of the wealth management industry. Once these sims broaden their scope to consider not only how much money you'll have when you're old, but what your lived experience will be like, all sorts of possibilities open up for personal growth and development. We expect to see many more of these services appearing, that operate at the intersection of synthetic humans, simulation, emotion analytics and self-fulfilment.