Would you resurrect your dead friend as an AI? The founder and CEO of a Russian artificial intelligence startup called Luka has! Eugenia Kuyda has immortalized her friend as a bot, using text messages he sent her. She developed a chatbot that lets anyone talk to her dearly departed best friend Roman Mazurenko, a fellow tech entrepreneur who died in a car accident in November 2015.
After compelling and processing over 8,000 lines of text messages Mazurenko had sent, Kuyda debuted the digital version of her friend through the app. Some people who knew Mazurenko say it sounds eerily like him.
Anyone who downloads the iOS mobile app Luka can instantly talk to the bot in either English or Russian by adding @Roman. You can select from the bot’s options to learn about Mazurenko’s career or ask him questions to see how the bot responds.
Luka is an app that uses a multitude of chatbots to help you locate restaurant recommendations, ask about the weather, make plans with your friends and play games using a chat conversation. You ask a question, to @Luka, and the app decides which chatbot should respond to you, whether it’s @News, @Quiz or another bot.
Yet, apparently, the app can do much more. The bots act like a real friend, using natural language to answer your questions in a sociable way, in order to create an interactive experience akin to speaking to another human being.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s effectively the same idea Google has been touting this year with its Allo app – only Luka did it first.
Thus, an episode of the science-fiction series Black Mirror, in which a character named Martha communicates with an android who hosts the personality of her deceased husband, has come true. As the rise of artificial intelligence continues, it is likely that the question of digital memorials like Mazurenko will come up again.