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For the past few months, the technology we know has been evolving at such a rapid pace that it is incredibly tough to keep track of it.
In one of my previous articles, I have already reiterated that any technology can be used for both good and bad. It all depends on who is using it.
Now, is bringing back your deceased loved one good or bad? Well, it may seem ethically and morally wrong. Or is it? That is a topic that requires a thorough discussion.
AI chatbots providing Closure with your Deceased loved ones
‘Griefbots’ — are chatbots that become your digital medium, providing closure with digital representations of your departed loved ones.
Yu Jialin, a 29-year-old software engineer in Hangzhou, China, stumbled upon an article discussing AI-powered lip-syncing technology that synchronizes lip movements with recorded speech.
As he read the essay, he couldn’t help but think of his late grandfather, who passed away nearly ten years ago.
Yu was close to his granddad and hence wondered, “Could I use this technology to see my grandfather again?”
This desire to resurrect the deceased using artificial intelligence is just one example among several emerging accounts in China, according to a report by Business Insider.
Using the AI powered models, the grandson grabbed the opportunity to convey his final words to his grandfather and get the closure he felt he needed.
During an interview with investigative journalist Tang Yucheng, Yu shared that he was only 17 years old when his grandfather passed away.
After weeks of relentless effort, punishing sleeplessness, and numerous obstacles, Yu was close to achieving the outcome of his deeply personal, unofficial artificial intelligence project.
At one point, the grandson asked the programme, “Hey, Grandpa. Can you guess who I am?”
In response, the bot delivered a generic answer, stating, “Who you are is not important at all. Life is a beautiful miracle,” as recounted by Tang.
Upon hearing these words, Yu’s face brightened with a smile, but his happiness quickly faded.
The digital figure displayed in the video was not his actual grandfather; rather, it was a projection that Yu had worked upon generating using his grandfather’s text messages, photos, videos, and letters.
Yu got a lot of old letters from his grandmother to teach his AI model what his grandfather was like.
She had exchanged them with his grandfather when they were young, and they revealed a side to the man that even Yu hadn’t seen as a child.
Several Players have started subscription models
The concept of bringing back dead people using AI is not a new idea.
In fact, in 2015, an article was published by Marius Ursache on an AI avatar collecting all the thoughts and memories to live forever.
However, generative AI’s explosive popularity led to rapid advancements in the growth of the technology. As expected, several players wanted to cash in on this new idea by jumping on the AI bandwagon.
There are many companies and startups that are successfully providing services based on this idea.
Seance AI initially considered a monthly subscription model but is now leaning towards a pay-per-session model. This is to prevent people from, you know, constantly knocking on the door of the afterlife.
A Hong Kong based funeral company, Fu Shou Yuan International Group, is charging families around $7,300 to create digital replicas of their departed using Microsoft-backed ChatGPT.
Human beings are a social animal. We all might have heard about this at least once in our lifetime.
I absolutely agree to this statement. You also can’t deny the fact that we are quite an emotional bunch. Believe it or not, our grief is also evolving with technology.
In my opinion, if a technology is available that provides people with much-needed closure, then who are we to judge?
We don’t know what everyone has gone through. We need to ask ourselves, “Won’t we use such technology if it is available at our disposal?”