Digital Resurrection Technology to Let Us Speak With the Dead?
Digital resurrection technology applying artificial intelligence could allow us to “communicate” with the dead by texting and speaking with those who have passed on – and even touching their virtual reality representations.
Several companies are experimenting with algorithms that allow them to generate text messages reflective of a deceased person, based on their collected emails and text messages, NBC News reported.
This would allow for messages to be created according to a person’s unique quirks, such as their use of emojis, and could even make basic back-and-forth conversations possible based upon data pulled from the internet.
Eugenia Kuyda, co-founder of Russian artificial intelligence start-up Luka, used an AI chatbot to continue to communicate with her best friend who died in a car accident in 2015, Quartz reported.
As a way of processing her grief, Kuyda launched a program on the Luka app that allowed the public to also engage with her deceased friend.
It’s likely that scientists will go beyond that and create browser plug-ins that make it possible to recreate a deceased individual’s personality to include their values and opinions based upon a lifetime of social media posts, emails and other digital data.
Experts may even take it a step further and make interactions between loved ones possible in virtual reality.
“You’d be able to put on your virtual reality glasses and headset, and experience typical everyday situations with that person, like sitting at the breakfast table or taking a walk in a nearby park,” said Charlotte Runius, CEO of Fenix Begravning, a Sweden-based funeral planning agency working with AI experts to develop these technologies, according to NBC.
“Hearing their voice and seeing them would allow you to actually feel like you’re next to the person again, and you can talk to them and get replies in a much more realistic way.”
These technological developments have raised a series of questions from experts wondering whether the development of “grief bots” were ethical or even helpful to those grieving.
An article by the Santa Clara University Markkula Center for Applied Ethics brought those questions to the forefront.
“Is there a violation of moral rights involved in the development of “griefbots”? Do we/should we respect people’s rights even after their death?” the article wondered.
Andrea Warnick, a Toronto-based grief counselor and thanatologist believes such technologies could be therapeutic during the grieving process.
“In modern society, many people are hesitant to talk about someone who has died for fear of upsetting those who are grieving — so perhaps the importance of continuing to share stories and advice from someone who has died is something that we humans can learn from chatbots,” she said, per Quartz.
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