What do you like to be remembered when you die? The new Wall Street Journal Tech Reporter (and Verge alum) documentary, Joanna Stern, explores the question of what it implies to pass on a virtual legacy and how we think about maintaining our identity after death.
She meets Lucy, a young woman with a medical problem who is confined to a wheelchair and needs a blood transfusion. Lucy is acutely aware of creating a digital legacy that will outlive her, but her mother, Kate, is not so sure of what she will console her if Lucy passes by.
Stern had spoken to James Vlahos, a man who documented interviews with his terminally ill father and developed a “Dadbot” to keep his father’s personality—as well as his jokes and singing—live after his death. Vlahos created HereAfter AI, which uses conversational AI to record people who are telling their individual experiences and to create a voice bot based on those conversations.
And then there’s Terasem, a company that can build a “mind file” for possible download to a robot. Bina48, the robot, is based on a real person, and although it looks a little awkward at times, you can see the ability to introduce human consciousness” to digital avatars.
In the interest of disclosure: We think this is a pretty astonishing piece of service journalism; it links Lucy and her mother to Vlahos, who helps to build a bot for her.
We’re going to admit that we were a little wary of seeing anything that seemed so centered on death, but it’s about remembrance, and helping to keep our memories of our loved ones alive and real long after they’re gone. Go watch this moving, reflective piece of what it means to live on after you die.
Here’s a youtube link: https://youtu.be/aRwJEiI1T2M