Russian AI Brings the Dead to Life


In today’s world of incredibly quick technological advances, software developers create applications like video games, operating systems, web functionality tools, device drivers, business productivity software, and many other tools and programs that simply make life a little easier.

But what about life after death? One Russian software developer has used 21st-century technology to virtually bring her loved one back from the dead.

Eugenia Kuyda, co-founder of app company Luka, has developed a chatbot, or “high-end conversational AI”, that is based on a real human being who has passed away. Kuyda collected text messages, social media conversations, and all sorts of additional information about the deceased and grafted it all onto an AI platform. She can now interact with Roman Mazurenko, the man she considers to be her “soul mate,” who died in a road traffic accident last year.

Luka unveiled the Roman chatbot at Symposium Stockholm, Sweden’s tech trade show. However, she has made it clear that Roman is nothing but a tribute or memorial that is unlikely to generate any sort of new business or niche in the tech industry.

The Roman bot was created for companionship.

“We would love to build a friend for people,” Kuyda said. “I don’t necessarily know what the end product is going to be, but if I could, I would build everyone a friend that knows you very, very well and who can make you feel better about yourself, make better choices, and be more connected to your friends.”

Luka is in the midst of a new project, beta-testing a bot that is based on one’s own personality. The AI alter ego is designed to understand your personality based on information you supply, eventually offering you coaching and companionship. She expects to release this digital doppelganger chatbot in the near future.

Since its founding, Luka has created a number of chatbots for a variety of purposes. For example, three recently developed bots are based on fictional characters from the HBO series Silicon Valley. Fans of the show can communicate with their favorite characters, receiving responses that reflect their on-screen persona.

Of course, Kuyda has considered the problems that can arise from her creations. She said, “Right now, you can recreate in CGI a person who’s not there, and if you also add voice to that and then AI — we’re just hard-wired to start feeling something, even if we know it’s fake.” She added, “How many scams can we run if we put you in a VR/AR with a real avatar with video, voice, everything?”

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