Weeks ago, Wired published an article talking about a son’s race to give his dying father artificial immortality. How did he achieve that? Using artificial intelligence, he created a chatbot whom he called the Dadbot. If you are familiar with Siri, Google, or Alexa, you have an idea of what this Dadbot can accomplish.
I was not raised with tools that would help me cope with death and loss, and I think that many of us are in that same situation. Now that I’m a mom, I’m more aware of the life cycle – that time on this earth is simply a gift that we need to cherish every single day. But, what if we could carry on our legacy and love through artificial intelligence? Would it be weird or will it promote healing and reassurance to the person who is using the bot?
A couple of months ago my grandfather – one of the healthiest men I’ve ever met – had a stroke, and the idea of losing him was unfathomable. As days went by, I slowly started accepting that the Universe may have had other plans for this grand man. Though he is still in rehab, the man I once knew is not the same as he was before. When I read about the Dadbot, I immediately thought that this could be the perfect start to keeping the ones you love alive longer – at least in a virtual way. I know that talking to a device might not seem ideal or it might generate some bittersweet feelings, but if I had to choose between hearing my grandpa’s voice whenever I miss him or not hearing him at all, the choice is obvious, at least to me.
Mini interview with James Vlahos, the Creator of Dadbot
Mindfully Augmented: Do you foresee the Dadbot improving people’s lives? If so, how?
James Vlahos: ‘Improvement’ is relative because nothing can come close to making up for the loss of my father. But the Dadbot gives me more than the memories and pictures that I would otherwise have. So, yes, the technology improves my life because it is an aid to help me remember someone I loved so much.