Grief tech startups want to help you text from beyond the grave

New AI startups are looking to end mourning for good.

We’ve already seen some pretty wild applications for generative AI — but talking to the dead might take the cake.

Three gravestones with iMessage bubbles and keyboards.

Grief tech is here and with it come chatbots that connect users to their departed loved ones.

Per Vox, grief tech startups are creating AI-powered “ghostbots” to help people dealing with grief and loss:

  • Replika lets users create an “AI companion who cares,” promising chats, video calls, and coaching sessions on its site.
  • With HereAfter AI, users record answers to interview questions and upload photos while they’re still alive, leaving behind a virtual version of themselves.
  • StoryFile also needs to be preplanned: Users can record videos of themselves that are turned into AI-powered, interactive conversations for loved ones.
  • After inputting basic information, users can chat with the departed via Seance AI’s ghostbot.

And You, Only Virtual is an AI communications platform that lets users create a “Versona” so that they can continue their unique relationships virtually after death.

Like with most AI products…

… grief tech isn’t without its risks.

One recent study points to the ethical issues around such AI applications, including lack of consent from the deceased, risks of psychological dependency for users, and harmful or biased language.

And we’ve already seen ethical debates transpire around deepfakes of the departed, with states mandating regulations for postmortem publicity rights (though guidelines focus on celebrities, for now).

Grief tech is part of a larger trend…

… of using technology to cope with loss.

In recent years, deathcare startups have emerged to offer support and creative solutions to people dealing with death:

  • Startups Parting Stone and Eterneva turn ashes into stones and diamonds, respectively.
  • Recompose transforms human remains into soil through a process called natural organic reduction.
  • Berlin’s Tomorrow Bio is attempting to mainstream cryopreservation.

If a virtual avatar of yourself feels like too much, we get it. Maybe putting your voice on a vinyl record is more your style.

Topics: Technology Death

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