This is a single frame from the 2002 Widescreen edition of Simone. It depicts a very interesting dilemma from near the end of the film: Simone 'proving she is alive', via a video recording of her holding today's paper, sent in to the police, who are holding producer Victor Taransky on the belief that he murdered her.
It is interesting of course, because Simone is, unbeknownst to anyone but Victor, an embodiment of him. A synthespian avatar, mocap and AI system he has been using as a star in his films, that does exactly what he desires her to do. An avatar that is literally the female embodiment of himself, using his mind to live.
Yet, Victor did kill her. At least he thought he did. He deleted her from the main system he was using, and dumped the specialist hardware and her harddrives and memory (her mind) in an old waterproof trunk dropped into the ocean. She is gone - but apparently not.
Because Simone is not physically connected to his own body, and because he used the method of 'destroying' her that he did - with her physical parts intact - the nit was possible for a third party to retrieve the trunk and restore Simone's data on a powerful enough computer system.
The person who did this was Victor's daughter, with the help of his ex-wife. At the time of this shot, it is his daughter who is 'piloting' Simone, and Simone is the direct embodiment of her will. Her every gesture controls Simone, to the same extent as was the case with Victor. The computer filling in the rest to keep Simone's mannerisms consistant.
This is a crux issue with any avatar embodiment, as numerous other films and printed media sources have built upon. Because there is no ultimate physical connection between the user's physical body and the avatar, it is always going to be possible that should the first party lose control of the avatar system, their embodiment - their very identity via the VR - can be ursurped by another. It is directly akin to someone physically stealing your body for their own use.
Only those who know a person well would be able to discern the difference, and that only under prolongued interactive exposure, as with any subsumed identity.
Did Simone Die?
That is a very good question, and one which is difficult to answer. She was a part of Victor, just as much as Victor was a part of her. The intent was certainly her death, but her physical systems survived intact. On those systems, the programming, neural networks, and data files that made up the rest of her, remained intact. Half her being, half her mind and all of her body never died.
Yet, the half of her mind that was a thinking, conscious being - Victor's half - was permanently removed from her. Even when she came back, Victor was never allowed to reconnect with her, with either his daughter, or his ex-wife taking over the embodiment. Throughout all of this, Simone remained the same legal entity - a legally recognised individual.
So no, she did not die, because the half of her that always remained was never alive - she never achieved independent sentience. Further, the independent sentient (Victor) that formed the spirit of her, remained alive, if disconnected from her. Had he died, it would have been a very different story, for he was the spirit, the soul if you will of Simone, and with his death hers would have been lost too.
Whilst he does never reconnect with her, never connect his mind into her embodiment again, the possibility is always open that he might - his mind is still around so the possibility of her being as she was before, is still around. The avatar - the personification - is only dead if the person involved in the equation, dies. Whether that person is ultimately of natural or synthetic origin is of course, completely irrelevant. Without Victor Simone had no person, and so, there was nothing there which could die.
Large Image Display: Simone: Split Personage
Lessons from Simone: Avatar Embodiment
Large Image Display: Simone: Mocap Synthespian
Virtual Dictionary Term: Embodiment
Virtual Dictionary Term: Virtual Embodiment
Virtual Dictionary Term: Tele-Embodiment
The Twilight Zone: The Lonely
An example of a physical avatar body that did die, as her person was encapsulated within her circuits.