AI chatbots offer comfort to the bereaved

3 months ago 41

NEW YORK: Staying in touch with a loved one after their death is the promise of several start-ups using the powers of artificial intelligence, though not without raising ethical questions.

Ryu Sun-yun sits in front of a microphone and a giant screen, where her husband, who died a few months earlier, appears.

"Sweetheart, it's me," the man on the screen tells her in a video demo. In tears, she answers him and a semblance of conversation begins.

When Lee Byeong-hwal learned he had terminal cancer, the 76-year-old South Korean asked the startup DeepBrain AI to create a digital replica using several hours of video.

"We don't create new content" such as sentences that the deceased would have never uttered or at least written and validated during their lifetime, said Joseph Murphy, head of development at DeepBrain AI, about the "Rememory" program.

"I'll call it a niche part of our business. It's not a growth area for us," he cautioned.

The idea is the same for company StoryFile, which uses 92-year-old "Star Trek" actor William Shatner to market its site.

"Our approach is to capture the wonder of an individual, then use the AI tools," said Stephen Smith, boss of StoryFile, which claims several thousand users of its Life service.

Actor William Shatner, famous for his roles in Star Trek, has become an ambassador for the StoryFile company. (Photo: GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/Frazer Harrison)

Entrepreneur Pratik Desai caused a stir a few months ago when he suggested people save audio or video of "your parents, elders and loved ones," estimating that by "the end of this year" it would be possible to create an autonomous avatar of a deceased person and that he was working on a project to this end.

The message posted on Twitte...

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