We are slowly getting used to the fact that AI is becoming present in almost every aspect of our life. But what if it also becomes present in our… death?
Microsoft recently patented a method of capturing people’s social media legacy and transcribing it into a chatbot. In other words; AI could simulate deceased people based on their digital footprint.
The technology allows mimicking persons personality, so that a digital simulacrum can be created. After all, we leave so much data in form of pictures, videos, WhatsApp messages, Facebook posts, you name it, that it is more than enough for the algorithms to forge our personality.
Of course such technology would possibly not only be restricted to dead people. Yet, the latter seems particularly morbid.
As we read in the source article;
“Specifically, Microsoft could use images, voice data, social media posts, text messages, and written letters to “create or modify a special index in the theme of the specific person’s personality”
(More here: https://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/robots/a35165370/microsoft-resurrects-the-dead-chatbots/ )
To put it bluntly; instead of old-fashioned spiritistic session with candles now a smartphone with a chat application will do the job, so that we can speak to the dead.
How about a full “digital resurrection” in VR? Imagine putting on a headset a having your deceased loved ones just few clicks away.
Well, you do not have to imagine that. It is already happening.
In South Korea a documentary titled “I Met You” tells a story of a mother’s reunion with her daughter. What made this reunion special was the fact that it took place in a carefully designed scene inside VR studio and that one of the participants was dead.
Nayeon, who died at the age of seven, was one the children of Jang Ji-sung, a woman depicted in the documentary.
Producers recreated digitally child’s facial features, motion and speech patterns.
The virtual model of a Nayeon, was not only animated but also allowed simple interactions such as holding hands. It took several months of preparation so that the grieving mother would have one last chance to say goodbye.
The result is equally chilling as it is mind boggling. In fact you can watch it yourself, but I have to warn you; this is possibly one of the most disturbing and intense things that you will see in a while;
Video: Mother meets her deceased daughter through VR technology
So what is next?
Full body human replicas as in “Black Mirror” episode ” Be right back”?
Specially customised NPCs in role playing games who are based on our social circle, to perfectly simulate people we already know?
One thing is certain, the progress in AI technology will force us, as humanity to keep asking very basic questions about what it truly means to live, and what it truly means to die.