The availability of large language models and image generators has fueled the growing popularity of digital twins of deceased people in China. Writes about it business insider.
29-year-old software engineer Yu Jialin told the story of how he created the so-called griffon his dead grandfather. To do this, he used old letters from a relative, archival photographs and fragments of text messages.
The training of the algorithm took several weeks. As a result, the bot turned out to be limited: it took about 10 minutes for it to respond to one message.
In a feat of technological wizardry even Yu Jialin initially struggled to grasp, he had just successfully tested an AI-powered chatbot that even simulated his grandfather’s conversational style. 1/9 pic.twitter.com/61CWDRLwPT
— Sixth Tone (@SixthTone) April 6, 2023
However, as the AI was fed with new information, the bot began to show a more accurate representation of the habits and preferences of the person. For example, Yu remembered his grandfather’s favorite show and wrote to the algorithm that Happy Teahouse was taken off the air.
“It’s a shame. My favorite show is no longer available. I would love to watch a few more episodes, ”said the bot grandfather.
The programmer shared the result with his grandmother. According to him, she silently watched the “messages” of her late husband, then thanked her grandson and left the room.
Chinese blogger Wu Wulu also used ChatGPT to create a griffonbot for his deceased grandmother. According to him, the chatbot generated messages slowly, but they corresponded to the style of the deceased relative.
“I feel good being able to look at my grandmother and talk to her more,” he said.
During the annual memorial festival, the administration of a cemetery in China used GPT models and artificial intelligence to clone voices to recreate people. The management said that thousands of visitors have taken advantage of the platform, despite the fact that digitally cloning a dead person costs about $7,300.
The opinion of psychologists
According to Sue Morris of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, it’s natural to change the way you grieve as technology advances. If earlier people wrote down stories about their loved ones, now they store memories in the form of photos and videos.
“It feels like these Griffbots are a technological step forward,” said Morris.
However, digital copies rob users of significant grieving control. Many people deal with grief by deciding how and when they process their emotions.
“You choose when to watch photos and videos, how long you will do it,” she said.
An unexpected trigger, like an insensitive chatbot message, can exacerbate feelings of grief, Morris said.
“Maybe 98% of the time the program will say something appropriate, but what if it doesn’t? Could this send someone into a downward spiral?” she wondered.
The ethical side of griffbots
The ethical factor also raises questions. However, University of Arizona staffer Mary Frances O’Connor recalled that social norms change over time.
She cited the spread of photography in the 19th century as an example. Back then, it was normal to take pictures next to deceased relatives and place them in living rooms, O’Connor reminded.
“Today, we might think that this display case in the living room was painful, but at the time it was common,” she said.
According to Santa Clara University professor Haibin Lu, the identity of a deceased person may end up in the hands of attackers pretending to be mediums.
There’s also the issue of obtaining consent, Lu said.
“In the future, when everyone learns about this technology, perhaps you can sign a document allowing or banning the use of your knowledge by descendants,” said the professor.
However, at present, few give the green light to such actions. Therefore, it will be difficult for children or grandchildren to use the personal information of relatives, Haybin said.
Recall that in January 2023, an Amazon engineer taught a chatbot to conduct “spiritual sessions”.
In March 2022, MyHeritage and D-ID created a tool that makes photographs of deceased relatives “talk”.
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