elderly woman holding hands with AI robot
In the future no one ever really dies.

Did you have “resurrecting the dead” on your 2024 bingo card?

From painting pictures, to penning prose, to creating their own religion, the speed at which AI technology is moving is rapid – and some might say alarming. 

Now, users have come up with a wildly controversial new way to utilize artificial intelligence: speaking with their dead loved ones.

Are we heading towards a future where no one ever truly “dies,” and one can live on as a chatbot forever?

Life After Death

Suddenly, companies are sprouting up left and right claiming they have the technology to let you speak with the dead… or at least an artificial intelligence version of them.

These companies say they can produce interactive, lifelike versions of people using a simple recorded video interview taken before the subject passes away. 

Once the subject is dead, their AI avatar can be communicated with by family and friends, just as if it were a casual afternoon FaceTime conversation. You can ask the AI questions, and it will answer them, just as the subject would have.

@storyfile

“Immortality might never be possible in the literal sense. But what if you could achieve a version of immortality through technology — a digital representation of yourself with whom your loved ones and future generations could interact?” An amazing video made by the talented team of @freethinkmedia is now live on their YouTube channel. You’re going to love it! 👉youtube.com/@freethink #StoryFile #ConversationalVideo #ConversationalAI #GriefTech #Hologram #Freethink #Immortality #DigitalGhost #AI #Technology

♬ original sound - storyfile

Some people have reportedly even used the technology to speak at their own funerals. 

Run Grandma.exe

Actor Ed Asner was one of a few thousand people to record a video before his death in 2021. His son, Matt Asner, says the technology has “blown [him] away.” 

“It was unbelievable to me how I could have this interaction with my father that was relevant and meaningful, and it was his personality. This man that I really missed, my best friend, was there,” he says.

Although the younger Asner reports satisfaction with the service, not all of his father’s family and friends agreed. He played the video at his father’s funeral, and invited attendees to stop by and ask the Asner AI questions, which he says “creeped out” some in attendance.

Nevertheless, he says that the curiosity was there – even from skeptics. “You can’t ask just one question,” he stated. “That's the great thing about it, is it draws you in – because the personality is there."

An Ancient Practice

Clearly for some, conversing with a dead loved one brings a sense of peace.

And this desire to communicate with dead spirits is far from novel. In fact, it has likely been around since we started forming families and communities thousands of years ago.

For example, mediums – people who claim to have a special ability to commune with spirits in other realms and relay their messages – have been around for centuries.

This phenomenon gained further traction during the industrial revolution, as people began looking to technology to create potential lines to the dead.

Thomas Edison, for example, famously sought to build a “spirit phone” which could be used to ring up one's dearly departed and talk to them in the spirit realm… Well, let’s just say the spirit phone isn’t exactly listed alongside the light bulb and the phonograph as one of his greater achievements.

If only Edison lived in the age of artificial intelligence, his vision would have come true!

Heed the Cautionary Tales?

There are obvious ethical concerns that come about when meddling with AI (pick up just about any junk science fiction book for a refresher).

And some argue we’re barreling towards an AI future we as a species are unprepared for.

From AI-created religions, to the risk of AI sentience, to human-to-human sex becoming obsolete because the robots are getting too sexy (yes, really), AI is rapidly changing the world as we know it – and many fear for the worse.

Heck, not even Jesus is immune. Earlier this year, He was resurrected (again) on Twitch in AI form, here to answer any and all questions you may have about faith and the afterlife.

Through it all, a few questions linger, plucked straight from classic sci-fi novels:

  • If every element of the human experience can ultimately be replicated by AI, what does being human even mean?
  • If we can “live” forever on a hard drive, does life still have meaning?
  • Would you want to take on quasi-immortality, assisted by AI technology?

42 comments

  1. Rev. MichaelRS's Avatar Rev. MichaelRS

    On Amazon Prime there's a show called UPLOAD that carries this principal to the next level. Even if you don't have Prime you can check out the details of it on Wikipedia.

    Anyway Christianity strictly forbids the practice of trying to communicate with dead spirits. Islam does over only because they believe it to be impossible and Judaism is a little less firm on the subject either way.

    But in each of those cases we're talking about communicating with the Dead through their ongoing everlasting spirit which some call the soul.

    I propose that this, with the AI, is a different matter altogether and I would be leaning toward it not violating any other prohibitions laid out in certain faiths.

    And I think if people can handle it and it gives them comfort, more power to them. But to me it's like those people that have their pet stuffed after they die so they still have them around and can look at them and talk to them and so on. All that kind of stuff would be just too emotional for me.

  1. Robert Gagnon's Avatar Robert Gagnon

    No matter what it is not the departed you are talking to. If you like being fooled and want to trigger some old memories, sure go for the entertainment value. Just remember it is a high tech parlor trick. You are being fooled by a machine.

    1. Robert James Ruhnke's Avatar Robert James Ruhnke

      Y’all are already fooled into thinking that your book is the written word of god and speaks to people lol. Sounds like y’all are used to being fooled by machine.

  1. He Who Breathes's Avatar He Who Breathes

    If you believe this, then I have a bridge to sell you ... :)

  1. He Who Breathes's Avatar He Who Breathes

    OK, I concede, that in the future, if/when we will be able to download all our consciousness into a computer, then we may have the ability to "speak with the dead".

    Even more interesting is that the "dead" may be able to live on in a digital format -> almost immortality.

    1. Danny D. Maynard's Avatar Danny D. Maynard

      Why not allow one to speak with one's self now? It might alleviate the issue with the "talking to one's self" without a real physical mechanism with which to carry on the discussion!

      1. He Who Breathes's Avatar He Who Breathes

        I would be worried that my AI self would say and admit things that I wouldn't...

        It could even have legal ramifications.

        Could you imagine for example if an AI self confessed to a murder?

        1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

          It sounded to me like the AI person would have the person's personality and voice, but not the person's memories. There is a lot more to being someone than just personality, of which there are only sixteen types.

          1. Amber Fry's Avatar Amber Fry

            Even that has become outdated and fewer psychologists are considering it. There seems to be too many personality crossovers or double and triple ups. People seem to be too complicated to split into as few as just 16 types it seems.

  1. Catherine's Avatar Catherine

    Does anyone really need another way to be exploited by grief profiteers? Sheezus.

  1. Rolando Couce's Avatar Rolando Couce

    WHEN PEOPLE TALK TO BIDEN AND KAMAL A THEY ARE BOTH DEAD FROM THE NECK UP

    1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

      Atleast Biden and Kamala don't write using all capital letters, and use punctuation.

    2. Danny D. Maynard's Avatar Danny D. Maynard

      Rolando is now a proven ChatGPT bot!

  1. Robert Rohr's Avatar Robert Rohr

    The issue is that people might start relying on AI for counseling, advice, or companionship. None of it is real.

    1. CB's Avatar CB

      You are right!

  1. Theresa C. Marquess's Avatar Theresa C. Marquess

    Grief is a very private, personal thing. Talking to a machine that might imitate your loved one is not actually talking to that loved one at all. Don't deceive yourself into thinking that it is. AI is just what its name tells you...Artificial Intelligence.

  1. Nicholas J Page's Avatar Nicholas J Page

    Good grief whatever next communication with the dead impossible otherwise I would speak to my late parents my brother I never knew and all my. Friends get real people.

    1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

      Nicholas, I'll gladly teach you to perform seances, and then you can speak with them all you want, whenever they want to appear at your seances. Wiccans like me are in frequent contact with discarnate entities. There's nothing out of the ordinary about it to us. Spirits sometimes communicate with us through electric and electronic devices. I bet they'll even be able to communicate with us through these AI programs, perhaps with a little more fine tuning, or explaining to AI that's what we're trying to accomplish. It's like trying to come up with the right password, to give Google.

  1. Colleen McAllister's Avatar Colleen McAllister

    Bear I mind here that it os Artificial Intelligence. As in not real. Not interested thank you.

  1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

    No it allows you to speak with someone you think is dead.

    1. Robert James Ruhnke's Avatar Robert James Ruhnke

      Y’all already do that with Jesus lol.

  1. Rev Mark D's Avatar Rev Mark D

    It's like the "Ask Jesus" chat engine over at twitch. And all this was anticipated in the late 60s-early70s by Firesign Theater in the artificial Richard Nixon exhibit at the amusement park on their album "I think we're all bozos on this bus." I'll always remember the best line: "Hey Paulo, they broke the President!"

  1. Rev Ned's Avatar Rev Ned

    Bah! Humbug!

  1. Steven Ferrell's Avatar Steven Ferrell

    Are people really so afraid of death?
    I cherish the loved ones I had that have passed. I know most of them loved God and held to His word and as I too believe in the Word of God, I feel they are very much with God and I look forward to seeing them again.
    Does that mean I’m in a hurry to join them? NO! Not in the least, as I enjoy my wife, kids and grandchildren. But I do not fear it and feel I must somehow live forever through some robot.

  1. Russel A. Kester's Avatar Russel A. Kester

    How very interesting. I don't know if it would hurt the grieving process or if a way could be found for it to help with the grieving process. It's a subject I would be interested in seeing psychology delve into someday. But it certainly is interesting.

    1. Dr. Zerpersande, NSC's Avatar Dr. Zerpersande, NSC

      I get your point but it is NOT talking to the dead. It might be grief counseling of some sort. It might be even sillier than praying to god/Jewish zombie

      1. Albert Anthony Burtson's Avatar Albert Anthony Burtson

        Faith is believing in something you can't see. Air you can't see it but it's there. Blood you can't see it until it drains from you. Same with love. Can't see it but it's there.

        1. Dr. Zerpersande, NSC's Avatar Dr. Zerpersande, NSC

          No, your statement might make a nice little ditty in a sermon but faith is believing in something that for which there is no demonstrable evidence and which therefore cannot be proven to exist.

          You can’t see air but there are countless demonstrations and experiments that show that air does exist. There are also experiments that can be done that will show that percentages of the various gases that make up air. Blood? Of course you can see it! Look at any of the veins on your hand. And a hypodermic needle can be used to demonstrate that it IS blood that you see.

          Love is an emotion and has no corporeal existence. And if you want to say that god is an emotion, go for it. It’s an emotion that I don’t have.

    2. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

      It's better than the real people coming back to life. Atleast we won't have to feed them or clothe them, and can shut them off whenever we get tired of hearing them, without offending, as we may have sometimes done when they were alive. Did you ever want some people to shut up sometimes, when they started getting on your nerves? Or tell them off without them giving you any back talk? Now's your chance. And what a relief it will be! Finally, you'll have complete control over them. It's just like the android wives of Harry Mudd, on the original Star Trek.

  1. Carol M. Anaski-Figurski's Avatar Carol M. Anaski-Figurski

    I think it's cool. Better than seances, 2024 is bright in futuristic technologies.

  1. Tareq Asfour's Avatar Tareq Asfour

    now, religion has became a joke with AI

  1. Warren Calvin Wall's Avatar Warren Calvin Wall

    When we get to conscious uploads into artificial, fully functional, bio-robotic bodies, let me know please. I may be interested.

  1. Peggy Tallent's Avatar Peggy Tallent

    If Lazarus could not leave Abraham’s bosom and go back to earth to warn the rich man’s brothers about torment, I really don’t think a pile of metal parts could stand in for any dead person.

    Luke 16:19-31

  1. Scott Smith's Avatar Scott Smith

    Who is responsible for any undesirable outcomes such as, God forbid, suicide?

    There are many possible negative consequences that may indeed occur, and discussion of this topic has been overlooked, ignored, or squelched.

    The providers may say that it is for entertainment purposes only, but do you think that this is how it will be used?

    What's next? AI therapists? AI ministers?

    1. CB's Avatar CB

      Sadly, AI therapists and ministers are already here. AI can be a useful tool, but it can be horribly misused as well.

  1. Susan Christine Giganti's Avatar Susan Christine Giganti

    Do I wish I could talk to some of my beloved family members again? Yes. But they are dead. I have had to learn to grieve and cope with them being gone. Getting a machine to fill an emotional hole is dangerous to our collective human psyche.

    1. CB's Avatar CB

      Yes, it is dangerous.

  1. Eileen Mary Flores's Avatar Eileen Mary Flores

    you're talking to a prerecorded program not a person, this is stupid, AI becomes dangerous when it leads people away from reality.

    1. CB's Avatar CB

      Yes, it is dangerous.

  1. CB's Avatar CB

    AI can be a very bad idea when used in this way.

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