Life After Death 'Chatbot' Mines Personal Data To Recreate You When You're Gone

Posted: Updated:
Print Article

Remember that episode of Charlie Brooker's dark sci-fi show 'Black Mirror', in which unnervingly realistic digital personalities of the dead were recreated from pure data?

Yeah... that's happening.

A pioneering 'life logger' has joined up with an artificial intelligence company to create a "chatbot" which can replicate an approximation of a dead personality.

By uploading data collected while you're alive - from location and movement data to conversations, autobiographical information, audio and video - the aim is to create software that could answer any question you could have answered when you were alive. Except, you'll be dead.

Gordon Bell, creator of 'MyLifeBits', told New Scientist in an interview that "lifelogs" could have a crucial role after somebody dies. Work he says has done for Cognea, an AI software firm, is perhaps the first step to a practical realisation of that goal.

"I wrote a conversational program, for a company called Cognea, that allows a chatbot to mini lifelogs," to told the magazine in an interview in this month's print edition.

"It lets you ask the chatbot the same questions you would have asked the person when still alive - like 'where did you grow up?". By consulting their logs, it should be able to answer any question that they could have answered."

Bell - who has been recording almost every aspect of his own life for more than a decade - said that his vast log of data has "made me very smug", since he can resolve almost any argument (usually in his favour). But he said that while you might not be actively logging your life, your digital trail still comprises a vast well of information that could later be intelligently mined.

"Our online click streams are in effect activity logs," he said. "And a frightening amount of that is being used for advertising, to sell us things. I'd like to cut that out."

It's early days, but the idea is arguably a gesture towards a more complete 'digital archiving' service for the human soul.

Check out this month's New Scientist for a full investigation into to present and future of lifelogging.

 
From Our Partners