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William Shatner who plays Captain James T Kirk in the original version of Star Trek arrives at the Destination Star Trek London event October 19, 2012

‘Star Trek’ alum William Shatner joins new frontier of AI

Image credit: REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett/File Photo

Actor William Shatner, who is best known for forging new frontiers on the ‘Star Trek’ TV series, has created an artificial-intelligence-powered version of himself to "preserve his memory and legacy for generations to come".

The Canadian-born actor, who turned 90 on Monday (22 March), spent over 45 hours over five days recording answers to be used in an interactive, AI-powered video created by Los Angeles-based company StoryFile.

First, they filmed Shatner answering questions about his life using special 3D video technology, depth kits, and state-of-the-art sound equipment. Experts then processed the footage, tagging clips and using it to train AI to provide responses to natural language questions.

According to StoryFile co-founder Stephen Smith, starting this May, using smartphones or computers connected to the internet people will be able to ask questions of the Shatner video, and AI will scan through transcripts of his remarks to deliver the best answer.

The system will allow current and future generations to interact directly with the recording, asking questions about Shatner’s work and personal experiences, even years after the man himself has passed.

“I have a story to tell,” Shatner explained. “Imagine if you could record yourself in a way that future generations, hundreds of years from now, could talk to you – and you could talk back. That’s possible. And with StoryFile, we can now be present in the future. Your authentic self, for all time.”

Smith said that fans will in the future also be able to “beam” Shatner into their living rooms as the company filmed him with 3D cameras that will enable his answers to be delivered via a hologram.

“We believe every person’s story matters,” Smith said. “Who better to show the world how StoryFile Life works than a man the world knows for stretching our imaginations about the future and life in this universe and beyond.”

Meanwhile, Heather Maio-Smith, co-founder and CEO of StoryFile, said: “William Shatner is going where no one has gone before. Generations in the future will be able to have a conversation with him. Not an avatar, not a deep fake, but with the real William Shatner answering their questions about his life and work.”

Shatner, who played Captain James T Kirk on 'Star Trek' from 1966 to 1969 and in a later series of 'Star Trek' movies, answered 650 questions on topics from the best and worst parts of working on the classic sci-fi show to where he grew up and the meaning of life.

The actor said he “wanted to reveal myself as intimately as possible” for his family and others. “This is a legacy,” he concluded. “This is like what you would leave your children, what you’d leave on your gravestone, the possibilities are endless.”

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