'Eternal You' explores moral complexities of keeping loved ones alive as AI avatars
Startups are using AI to create avatars that allow relatives to talk with their loved ones after they have died. An exploration of a profound human desire and the consequences of turning the dream of immortality into a product.
“I wanted to see if he was okay,” explains Christi, one of the users of Project December. With this innovative software, users can communicate with a virtual version of the deceased through a chatbot that simulates the dead person’s conversation patterns. Hers was an attempt to check on her first love. Others may simply miss someone, seek permission to move on, or want to rid themselves of guilt.
Little is known about the effects that this kind of generative AI might have on our brains, hearts, and wallets. The filmmakers, Hans Block and Moritz Riesewieck ("The Cleaners," 2018 Sundance Film Festival), do not claim to have the answers, but instead bring up various emotional and moral complexities we should be aware of. "Eternal You" poses important questions about algorithmic immortality, and the need to take a closer look at our future “digital remains."