With that said, I've been noodling a little on the thoughts behind the Battlestar Galactica prequel "Caprica". The premise is that one could create a digital afterlife where a soul could be reanimated provided enough data about the original human is preserved. In the show, the premise is powerful enough to disrupt contemporary religion.
The basic engineering concepts to make this a reality, are divided into two areas:
- A device that humans wear on their head which allows them to enter incredibly realistic digital three-dimensional worlds which they navigate as avatars. These worlds are limited by the fact that each avatar is directed by a real human in a real world outside the digital one. Think of it as an uber-realistic Second Life where you control your avatar with your mind.
- Technology that extends the previous concept to allow one to create autonomous avatars and inject them into these worlds. The avatars behaviour originates from rules divined from data about the original human that they reflect. In other words, if its your data, this avatar is you... except that its an autonomous copy.