With AI, you can speak to your dearly departed

New technology could change the way we deal with the loss of a loved one forever.

Eugenia Kuyda, a Russian tech developer, lost her best friend, Roman Mazurenko, unexpectedly. From this loss, she developed something which could change our mourning process forever.

Using new technology initially designed to assist people in finding restaurants, Kuyda created a digital version of Mazurenko. The idea came to her whilst re-reading the text messages they had exchanged. All she wanted was one last conversation and soon an AL-powered bot was able to give her just that.

A team of engineers from Kuyda’s company, Luka, developed the bot through a neural network. The network uses actual messages previously sent by the deceased to form appropriate responses.

Building the bot was simple; they had no doubt it was possible. The concerns were, instead, how it would feel emotionally and whether it would truly mimic Mazurenko. The app began as a digital monument of Mazurenko, but Kuyda believes memorial bots are ‘the future.’

The bots do not have artificial intelligence. They are made using a form of technology that has existed since 1966. It is simply set up to mimic based on a mathematic formula, creating only a shadow of a person.

The feedback on this technological advancement has not all been positive, as critics believe the bot may hinder the grieving process. For many of those close to Mazurenko, however, the bot has been someone that will simply listen to their grief and regret and help them process.

Mazurenko is now featured on an app called Luka, which means that anyone with the app can converse with him as they would a real person.