Technology Hell: Can Artificial Intelligence Resurrect The Dead?

For a price, you may be able to digitally recreate an avatar of a dead loved one and animate it by facilitation of artificial intelligence…

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Via Search Engine Journal:

Still, advances in artificial intelligence (AI) now allow people to interact and hold conversations with loved ones from beyond the grave. Several companies, including California-based HereAfterAI, are using technology similar to that which powers AI chatbots and voice assistants to create virtual versions of actual humans. Available as a mobile app, HereAfterAi uses photographs, video interviews, and voice recordings to create interactive avatars capable of conversation. You, Only Virtual, also based in Los Angeles, strives to “recreate the relationship dynamics between you and your loved one through conversation– enabling authentic communication upon one’s passing. [emphasis added]

Because it introduces so many more variables into the equation, the bit about creating the relationship dynamics is seemingly much more involved than simply recreating an individual’s personality. Human social relationships, after all, are extremely complicated. And the more intimate the pairings (for example, mother/son like in the video below), the more labyrinthine they become, molded and nurtured (and sometimes scarred) as they are by years of interpersonal history.

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“I realized what I am terrified of losing is the relationship between her and I. I’m terrified of losing how my mom is to me,” offers Justin Harrison (founder of You, Only Virtual) as the impetus of his work, who built the prototype digital avatar of his mother before she succumbed to cancer.

According to You, Only Virtual, “YOV is a fully patented digital communications system that uses AI and machine learning to map and recreate the relationship dynamics between you and your loved one through conversation– enabling authentic communication upon one’s passing.”

Of course, the definition of “authentic” in this context is subjective. If it’s taken to mean realistic-seeming interactions based on a synthesis of the target’s personality and the relationship dynamics between two individuals, it may be “authentic.” If “authentic” is taken to mean “real,” it’s not that.

Humans are, if nothing else, sentimental creatures. It’s totally natural as part of the grieving process to attempt to thwart death by bringing back a loved one from the dead.

But the potential for psychological cruelty is always there, looming in the background, when technology steps in to subvert the natural grievance process — to cheat nature, a proxy for God, itself. This is not a healthy way of handling loss, it would seem. We are not gods. We are not gifted with the power to overrule the natural processes that affect everything.

There is something profoundly sacrilegious about the whole thing.

Another whole aspect is the reverse-engineering of the human psyche and social dynamics that will open the door to developing other technologies — perhaps less seemingly benign as resurrecting dead loved ones.

Cloning human digital thought patterns has been considered the Holy Grail of artificial intelligence since Alan Turing introduced his eponymously named test in the 1950 paper “Computing Machinery and Intelligence.” One of the most critical stumbling blocks data scientists have encountered in developing artificial intelligence is separating creative thought into convergent and divergent thinking.

If the social engineers had more access to data regarding human thought processes, such as might be generated through the widespread adoption of the technology described here, their prospects of creating truly dynamic and generative cognitive capacities in AI — the “Holy Grail” of artificial intelligence — would be that much brighter.

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As bizarre as AI’s applications are in 2023, as Terence McKenna once said, things are only going to get weirder. ✪

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▶️ 11 Minutes 12 Seconds ⭐️ Michael Brower