Your Dead Loved Ones Can Now Live on as 'Black Mirror'-Style AI Copies

Monday, 05 March 2018 - 11:33AM
Weird Science
Artificial Intelligence
Monday, 05 March 2018 - 11:33AM
Your Dead Loved Ones Can Now Live on as 'Black Mirror'-Style AI Copies
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Image credit: YouTube

Just so we're clear, Black Mirror is not supposed to be an instructional series that's filled with good ideas for the future.

In the show's second season, there's an episode called "Be Right Back," in which a woman's husband dies, and she replaces him with a robot that's been programmed to think and act exactly like he did when he was alive.

Apparently, somebody at Swedish funeral agency Phoenix must have seen the episode, and not picked up on the fact that it is, inherently a very bad idea.

The company has made a public announcement, asking for people to donate their deceased loved ones for the purpose of experimentation. Already, this is becoming a little concerning.

The purpose behind these experiments is to create an artificial intelligence that's based on the deceased, which their loved ones can communicate with, as apparently, the grieving process in the face of personal loss isn't bad enough as it is.

The plan is to initially start by creating a synthesized version of the dead person's voice, but the long-term goal is to create complete robots that look exactly like the people they're mirroring.


Or, at least, this is what Sputnik News is claiming. It's worth mentioning that the news agency doesn't include any solid references in its article on the subject, beyond a mere reference to the "Swedish funeral agency Phoenix" that is very vague, all things considered.

It's also worth bearing in mind that Sputnik News is a website that's based in Moscow, with a focus on reporting to America. The site has been accused in the past of operating as a propaganda arm for the Russian government, reporting news in such a way as to further Russia's interests within the West.

This isn't to definitely say that Sputnik News published this vague story that deliberately references a Black Mirror horror story in an effort to convince readers of the cruel, nearsighted scientific endeavors of European companies. That said, without any further proof that Phoenix exists, let alone that it's asking for dead bodies for AI experiments, it's hard to be certain that Sputnik's story is completely on the level.

We can only hope that this story is as much hokum as it sounds. The idea that any company might try recreating inherently flawed digital versions of deceased people certainly feels like a violation of human rights.

Nevertheless, we do know that scientists around the world are currently working hard to try and create authentic digital copies of human beings. It would make sense that this process would be easier while the person was still alive and if the artificial copy wasn't in the possession of a funeral service for some reason.

Many prominent scientists (and also Elon Musk) have stressed the importance of humans essentially mind-melding with computers, allowing us to augment our own minds with efficient digital processors to help us improve our own mental abilities.

The next step after this would be to begin storing memories digitally, which would naturally lead to a very similar Black Mirror scenario in which afterlife exists on a San Junipero hard drive.

Honestly, the idea of living eternally within an '80s fever dream sounds far more appealing than having Grandmabot 5000 bumbling around the living room long after everyone should have come to terms with her passing.

Weird Science
Artificial Intelligence