Two things are forever: the human spirit and data. What does a future look like where deceased people are resurrected by AI and grief is a purchasing need?
With the project "Soulpod - Bring back your loved ones." we visualize a future scenario in which (creative) artificial intelligences can virtually simulate deceased people on the basis of data. The fictional company "Soulware" presents this technology as an innovation in the scenario in the year 2032. This project is intended to critique technological development, illustrate psychological and societal implications, and stimulate debate. The following sections of the text are written from the perspective of the fictitious company.
Let's go on a journey to the future.
Soulware 2032: 10 years of innovation in grief management
2025: SoulFrame - Talking to the deceased
Until the year 2025, a person who lost a loved one had to try not to forget him. Long-past moments with deceased were recorded through pictures. This is what Soulware changed eight years ago. With SoulFrame, users are able to talk, interact with deceased people. In doing so, the e-Ink display presents a changing image of the person. This product was the first step for deceased digital twins into everyday life.
2027: SoulTouch - Feel deceased
An important factor that was always missing after death was delivered by Soulware in 2027 - human proximity. SoulTouch is an extension that makes memories haptically and tactilely perceptible. The dynamic surface of the pillow replicates behaviors of human affection: the heartbeat, the feel of the hand or warmth. The product promises to decouple human closeness from its dependence on lifetime.
The new Innovation
The latest innovation, SoulPod, is a product that allows deceased people to be brought back in virtual form. This is achieved through the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) based on extensive data from chat histories, social media accounts and other text data of the deceased. The AI makes it possible to create a lifelike simulation of the deceased's behavior and personality.
The face of the virtual person is created from thousands of pictures and videos taken by the deceased during their life. This data is analyzed and processed to create the most authentic and natural likeness possible. The result is an almost lifelike virtual presence. SoulPod allows users to communicate with their deceased loved ones and experience interactions that recall their time together and relive moments that create new memories.
Upload of life data: SoulScape AI
To ensure that the digital version of the once deceased is as close as possible to the person from the user's memory, Soulware provides an easy way to upload the necessary data. This can be done by uploading chat histories, documents and recordings to the Soulscape Cloud AI.
This cloud AI uses advanced technologies to create the most realistic likeness of the deceased. All data from popular cloud services is supported for import.
Individualization of lost fellow human beings
Although the SoulPod is based on real-life data, it can be dynamically adapted through upgrades. Such an upgrade can be, for example, a gender change to adapt the digital image to changing preferences or needs. Adding new outfits and look-ups can also improve the authenticity of the digital twin. Furthermore, an upgrade can also be used to keep the digital twin up to date. Here, current information can be added, for example, to be able to discuss current events.
Back to the present
A functional prototype already in 2023
At first glance, the technological development described above resembles science fiction. Nevertheless, we are already technologically capable of training the behavior and language of artificial intelligences on those of deceased humans. We realized this in a technological prototype.
As an example, we chose the prominent actor Paul Walker, who had been deceased for nine years. Paul Walker died extremely tragically at a young age and most people of today's generations witnessed his death and were emotionally shaken by it.
The prototype was accessible to visitors in the presence exhibition. Everyone who wanted to was invited to experience the mental entry into this future scenario and to discuss the effects and criticism of the topic with us as a project group.
- Analytisches Gestaltungsprojekt
- Semester 2, Winter 2022/2023