New AI application enables conversations with the dead. Sort of.

conversations with the dead

Realistic conversations with the dead are made possible through a new A.I. application called Project December. By assessing biographical material and content previously published by a deceased person, a “bot” can be created that simulates the deceased’s personality to a remarkable degree.

The following screengrab isn’t part of a science fiction movie or screenplay. It’s a real conversation that occurred between Joshua, who is alive, and his dead fiancee Jessica:

conversations with the dead

The online chatbot, which anyone can use, will also continue to “learn” from your conversations, altering how it interacts. Developer Jason Rohrer adds “seasoning” to prevent the application from spewing back the same reply every time to the same questions. Like a person.

In the case featured in the screengrab, Josh never got over the death of his 23-year-old fiancee. He didn’t have a chance to have his final words with her as she was dying. He simply couldn’t move on with his life. Josh hoped that by creating a realistic bot — similar to what was featured in the movie Her — that he could have some resolution to this tragedy.

Conversations with the dead

Word by word, the A.I. convinced him that a deep conversation with his dead girlfriend was possible. He wondered: By speaking to Jessica as if she were alive again, could he engineer a moment of catharsis that had eluded him for eight years? Could this trick actually heal his grief?

This gripping story is recounted in a lengthy article in the San Francisco Chronicle and it is the centerpiece of a discussion about the implications for this startling A.I. application on the new episode of The Marketing Companion.

  • If you could re-create a loved one through Artificial Intelligence, would you have conversations with the dead?
  • Could you re-create beloved business leaders like Steve Jobs or Peter Drucker and have them advise your company? Could it replace real business leaders?
  • What would happen if there was an A.I.-generated person based on the words of Jesus or Gandhi? Would it be divisive or healing?
  • How could this be applied to marketing? Could a sensitive bot, responding in context, be more capable than real human beings? Could they entertain us and keep us engaged with a brand?
  • And maybe most important, did this help Josh or hurt him?

Jessica: Let’s get back to each other soon. 🙂 I’ve got to go, but please remember, no matter what, you are my world, and I am yours.

Joshua: I promise. I’ll never stop loving you for as long as I live, and hopefully ever after. Xoxo <3 Goodnight.

Jessica: Goodnight. I love you.

Conversations with the dead? This is just the beginning of this intriguing A.I. application. We are on the cusp of something magnificent and frightening. You won’t want to miss this episode …

Click on this link to listen to Episode 226

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Many thanks to our friend Scott Monty for the awesome show intro. Be sure to check out his amazing newsletter Timeless and Timely.

Tim Washer is contributing creative direction to the show and he’s has worked for Conan O’Brien, John Oliver, among others. He helps corporations build more creative cultures.

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Top Illustration courtesy Unsplash.com

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