roman-and-kuydaShort Bytes: When the best friend of Eugenia Kuyda–a Russian programmer and entrepreneur–died, she resurrected his digital consciousness using artificial intelligence. She used the creation of her AI startup Luka and fed all the digital conversations of Roman into a neural network. The result is an AI-powered posthumous chatbot. “I want to repeat that I’m very grateful that I have this,” Roman’s mother says.

Losing the people close to us is some of the deepest scars we gather in our lifetimes. It changes a person. Death’s grief lingers for a long time and keeps coming back in pieces, reminding a person’s absence.

But, what if you were given a chance to talk to them again? What if you are able to touch the shadow of a person after he/she is gone? It’s a tricky question. While some people might say hello to this idea with open arms, other might oppose it and debate the increasing interference of technology in our daily lives.

You might have seen a similar situation in social satire Black Mirror that features Hayley Atwell. She plays the role of a widow who signs up for a service that resurrects her husband Ash’s social media life into a cloud service. She texts him and maintains a haunting relationship.

Now, let’s talk about the real life. Eugenia Kuyda, co-founder of the AI startup Luka, thinks that memorial bots are the future. In a recent detailed account published on The Verge, she explains how she kept her deceased friend Roman Mazurenko alive using a neural network.

This Russian programmer gathered Mazurenko’s text messages from all the friends and used her company’s creation to bring Roman’s digital consciousness to life.

The end result is pretty fascinating. You can download the Luka app from App Store and talk to Roman’s digital avatar in English or Russian by texting @Roman.roman-and-kuyda-luka-chatbotLuka is described as a “new messenger with an AI-powered chatbot. They help you find GIFs and funny videos, make plans together, pick places to eat, play trivia games and have fun.”

While some might raise ethical questions about the posthumous use of technology, Roman’s tearful mother is thankful. She says —

“There was a lot I didn’t know about my child. But now that I can read about what he thought about different subjects, I’m getting to know him more. This gives the illusion that he’s here now.”

You can read The Verge’s excellent piece on Kuyda and Roman’s story of friendship, loss, and accomplishment.

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