Often, one of the wishes of a person who has suffered a loss is to talk to a loved one again, if only for a moment. Now, thanks to artificial intelligence, new technologies make "virtual" possible.
Is this just a new form of "digital memory", or is it a technology surrounded by serious ethical issues?
"Dueling Robots" and Fingerprints
So-called griefbots (literally dueling bots) are chatbots — computer programs based on artificial intelligence (AI) and capable of conversing with humans — made up of "fingerprints" left by loved ones: a legacy of social media posting videos, photo emails and Text messages that inform artificial neural networks.
Together, they allow you to "mimic" the style and way of thinking of the deceased. In this way, her loved ones can continue chatting with her virtually after her death.
Can griefbots help you overcome the loss of a loved one?
The main argument for creating this new technology is to provide an important source of support for grieving people.
This is one of the reasons why independent researchers Eugenia Kuyda and Muhammad Ahmad started developing griefbots. The idea came to them when they lost their best friend and father respectively.
The authors present Grief Robot as a modern interpretation of grief rituals and classic forms of memorialization, such as funerals or photo albums.
From this perspective, the grief robot will play a positive psychological role in the grief process. After all, they allow people to interact with the memories of the deceased in more sophisticated ways, honoring their lives and helping them retain their memories.
bassam insisted on his father's grief but was directly inspired by his desire for his children to see their grandfather.
As such, it offers an interactive and immediate experience that goes beyond the classic story of who this is told from generation to generation.
For her part, Kuyda stressed that chatting with her best friend after his death helped her talk about the subject and uncovered aspects of her that she didn't know.
Both programmers insisted that talking with deceased loved ones helped express the feelings that overwhelmed them when they lost a loved one. Also feel free to express your fears and concerns.
Generally, they are afraid to do something with "real" people because they are afraid of being judged.
What ethical risks does this human-computer interaction pose?
Other authors, however, warn that robot-human interactions could pose ethical risks through such technological tools.
In addition to the privacy of the deceased and the ownership and use of their "fingerprints" (for purposes that are not necessarily consented or desired), there is also the question of how this technology affects bereaved family members or friends.
Contrary to what their creators insisted, one of the possible consequences would be to make it difficult for them to progress in life and gradually adjust to a world without the presence of their loved ones.
By focusing on virtual interactions with the deceased, the bereaved may begin to socially isolate themselves.
Furthermore, it must be remembered that this "virtual other" is established based on the conversation history of the deceased. That is chatbots use your past experiences to predict future responses.
This means that answers can be given that do not meet the expectations of a loved one. Either based on current new conditions that require a more adaptive response; or what we know or think we know about her.
Remember that such tools are based on your total fingerprint. This includes, for example, all your conversations with third parties.
Therefore, there may also be different "me" or public figures depending on the context and/or the person interacting with it.
In other words, the use of these tools allows us to "discover" aspects of our loved ones that we don't know and that we might not want to know.
All of this affects our image of people, thereby forgetting that a chatbot is nothing more than a robot.