Public perception of artificial intelligence (AI) technology currently lies somewhere between fear and cautious optimism.

Is anybody there?

Emerging technologies make it possible to interact with AI personalities, allowing people to communicate with individuals who are not there. Anyone who has lost a loved one can speak of the grief that lingers in their absence – but, what if we were given another chance to communicate with them. Could this technology help people who are mourning?

Replica, an app that enables users to replicate themselves using AI software before to engaging in conversation with an AI chat robot based on the personalities of real people. The idea for the app came about when its creator Eugenia Kuyda’s close friend died. Using AI and machine learning techniques, she uploaded her friends digital conversations into a neural network to create Luka the chatbot – enabling her to engage in conversation with the AI persona.

Memories beyond life

A similar online service is that of Eternmi, whereby users can store memories, photos and ideas allowing them to create an avatar that can be communicated with in life and death.

Whilst current AI mechanics mean these personas are only mimics of their human counterparts this type of technology does raise ethical questions regarding the use of digital legacies and data after people have died.

AI technology has evolved significantly in recent years, with these advancements showing no signs of slowing down. With many people now more aware of their digital footprint, it will be interesting to see how AI is used going forward and whether ‘memorial software’ will become commonplace.

Laurens Grisel

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