The Hustle

Will AI help us grieve better? Or way, way worse?

You can’t put a price on closure, but one Chinese funeral company is trying anyway.

Fu Shou Yuan International Group is charging families ~$7.3k to produce digital representations of deceased loved ones using ChatGPT.

Advanced technology being used to sidestep the finality of death isn’t anything new — from consciousness-uploading startups to life span-extension biotech to, let’s say, a solid half of “Black Mirror” premises — but it doesn’t mean anyone’s ready for the griefbot wave.

What are griefbots exactly?

Ever use AOL Instant Messenger? Well, imagine having a casual convo on there — just with a disembodied version of your late loved one.

That’s what’s on offer here: feed a person’s writings and info into an AI program, generate a somewhat faithful replication of their personality, then “communicate” with them.

Soon to launch in this space is Seance AI, which — yep — what it’s going for is all right there in the name. What sticks out most about it, though, is its brevity.

That sets it apart from prominent avatar services HereAfter and Replika, which produce AI replicas often used for long-term communications.

Grief evolves with technology

The wide adoption of photography changed mourning by bringing images of the deceased into homes; this is just the latest evolution.

And with increasingly sophisticated AI tools producing better approximations, griefbots will only get more convincing.

Whether they’ll ultimately offer more satisfying goodbyes, or leave people feeling even emptier — that’s anyone’s guess.

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