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Final frontier

William Shatner to be immortalized in AI video for 90th birthday

The Jewish actor has created an AI version of himself through StoryFile, an interactive storytelling app, so that he can speak to future generations

William Shatner participates in the 'William Shatner Spotlight' panel at C2E2 at McCormick Place on Sunday, March 1, 2020 in Chicago. (Rob Grabowski/Invision/AP)
William Shatner participates in the 'William Shatner Spotlight' panel at C2E2 at McCormick Place on Sunday, March 1, 2020 in Chicago. (Rob Grabowski/Invision/AP)

William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk in the beloved Star Trek franchise, is celebrating his 90th birthday by preserving his legacy in artificial intelligence.

The Jewish Canadian actor has announced that he will be producing an AI version of himself with the help of StoryFile, an interactive storytelling app. Shatner joins the new app as a brand ambassador, becoming the first person featured in an AI-powered video.

“For all my children and all my children’s children and all my children’s loved ones and all the loved ones of the loved ones. That’s my gift to you down through time,” said Shatner about the project.

The video, available from May 2021, will not be a pre-recorded conversation or a “deep fake.” Rather, by using innovative technologies such as natural language processing, StoryFile will create an interactive experience for participants — “videos that talk back,” according to the company’s slogan.

“Generations now and in the future will be able to have a conversation with William Shatner,” said the company, set to launch in June 2021.

William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk from the television program Star Trek. (NBC Television/Wikipedia/public domain)

“Who better to show the world how StoryFile Life works than William Shatner, a man the world knows for stretching our imaginations about the future and life in this universe and beyond. A man who has always generously shared the highs and lows with us, and who has mastered the art of storytelling,” explained StoryFile co-founder Stephen Smith to Entertainment Weekly.

StoryFile announced that it will also be teaming up with civil rights activists and Holocaust survivors, to preserve their legacies, memories, and stories.

“This changes the trajectory of the future — of how we experience life today, and how we share those lessons and stories for generations to come,” StoryFile Co-Founder and CEO Heather Maio-Smith told Entertainment Weekly.

William Shatner attends night one of the Television Academy’s 2018 Creative Arts Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theater on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Salangsang/Invision/AP)

Shatner has always been vocal about his Jewish upbringing, especially his experiences of anti-Semitism growing up in Montreal, Quebec.

In a 2018 interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Shatner described the “value system” he developed through being Jewish.

“Giving to people. Being generous and charitable. Learning is an important aspect of being Jewish and connection with other Jewish people. There are so few, so it helps that everyone helps each other.”

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