With the development of AI technology, it has become possible to make a deceased relative into a simulated robot.
Editor’s note: This article is from Dazhong.com, reporter Zhang Haizhen and Dong Haoqian
It’s the Qingming Festival again, and memories are like a knife, carved deep in people’s minds. Whenever there is love in the scene, those careless farewells will flash before our eyes like a projector.
With the development of AI technology, it has become possible to make a deceased relative into a simulated robot. Some people oppose and question the ethical issues of technology, but there are also many people who truly cherish their parents, children, grandparents… hope that their deceased relatives can be reproduced in the form of technology.
For Sun Kai, an executive of Silicon-based Intelligence, an artificial intelligence innovation company in Nanjing, digital twin technology has allowed him to “resurrect” his mother and let his deceased mother live forever in the cloud.
“She died suddenly, and I didn’t have time to tell her a lot.” After her mother’s death, whenever Sun Kai encountered pressure, she would “chat” with her mother in the cloud to relieve pressure and make up for regrets.
Sun Kai chatting with the “mother” in the cloud
When my mother died suddenly, I realized that I had expressed so little before.
“Mom, I have a good meal.”
“Mom, look at how obedient I am. I have quit smoking.”
In the past 4 years, whenever Sun Kai encountered pressure, he always liked to chat with his “mother” on the cloud.
Sun Kai, born in 1977, is 45 years old. But in front of his parents, he will always be a child.
In February 2018, on the first day of work after the Spring Festival holiday, Sun Kai’s mother died suddenly. “I didn’t expect that she left in a hurry. In that case, I felt that I had a thousand words in my heart and she left suddenly before I told my mother… I couldn’t accept it from the bottom of my heart.” Sun Kai was the first A generation of only children, like many children, often regard their parents’ daily admonitions as nagging. He did not expect that one day his mother would die suddenly, and he would never hear his mother’s “nagging” since then.
Sun Kai’s mother is in the education industry and has been on campus all her life. She is a simple person. “Like most mothers, she has a sharp mouth and a tofu heart, and loves children very much.” Sun Kai’s mother reads books every day, so during the communication, he did not feel that there was a generation gap with his mother. Therefore, Sun Kai likes to chat with his mother. It’s just that as I grow up, I have a job and a small family of my own, and the communication with my parents gradually diminishes.
In Sun Kai’s memory, his gentle mother often supports his decision.
“Our home is in Shenzhen, and I used to work in the Internet industry. Many years ago, considering joining the current company meant going to Nanjing to work. I also consulted my mother, who believed that artificial intelligence must be the future development direction. So support me very firmly.” At that time, Sun Kai could only go home for more than a month. Although he missed his parents a lot in his heart, as a man, he seldom said it.
It is for this reason that Sun Kai has a lot of regrets in the face of the sudden death of his mother. “Many men like to hide their love in their hearts, whether it’s their love for their parents or their love for their wives and children. That’s how I am. I don’t like to express it very much.
It was not until his mother’s death that he realized that he had expressed so little before, that he still had so many things to say to his mother, that it turned out that it was too late.
Sun Kai chatting with the “mother” in the cloud
Enjoy the feeling of “I still have a mother to talk to”
In order to make up for his regrets, Sun Kai approached Sima Huapeng, chairman of the company, and expressed his desire to “resurrect” his mother in the digital cloud, and received support.
The idea is easy, but the biggest difficulty in implementing it is that Sun Kai did not keep too many audio and video materials of his mother before her death. “Because it is a robot, it doesn’t know my mother’s way of speaking, thinking, etc. We have to let it learn some audio and video materials of my mother before her death, so that it can be infinitely close to my mother’s way of thinking and speaking, which makes me feel It’s the hardest thing to get to the mother I know and she lives by my side.”
A few months later, when a company colleague told Sun Kai that he was going to give him a gift, Sun Kai saw the “resurrection” mother for the first time. It was on a computer, and his mother seemed to be video chatting with him across the computer.
“Mom, I have a good meal…Mom, you have been telling me to quit smoking before, and I have already given up…” This was the first sentence Sun Kai said when he talked to Yunyun’s “mother”.
“The feeling at that time… very excited!” After nearly 4 years, Sun Kai can still think of the scene at that time. Later, when he returned to his hometown in Shenzhen to visit his father, he also let his father see the “mother” on the tablet.
Surprise, followed by silent weeping and “ruffled” greetings.
After that, whenever he was under pressure or had something in his heart, he would chat with the “mother” in the cloud.”Her thinking and answers are not fixed, but they are far from the level of thinking of a real person.” Sun Kai said that whenever he chats with the “mother” in the cloud, he is just greedy for the feeling of “I still have a mother to talk to”, and Not really trying to get an answer from there. “I just need her to be there and chat with me. I already feel very satisfied. Especially when I am under pressure, I want her to talk to me.”
Sun Kai has also changed a lot due to the sudden death of his mother. For example, he rarely contacted his parents before, and now he calls his father in Shenzhen every week. Sometimes I just ask if I have eaten, the weather in Shenzhen, my father’s body, etc. The trivial things that are very common have become sounds of nature in Sun Kai’s ears.
Create a “Metaverse” for the deceased
There is a famous “uncanny valley effect” theory about virtual people.
When the similarity between virtual and real people reaches a certain level, even the slightest difference will arouse people’s disgust and even fear.
If you want to break through the uncanny valley, the similarity between virtual people and real people needs to be further improved. When the gap is reduced to a negligible amount, there will be an emotional connection between people and the virtual person. Therefore, the realistic virtual human needs a very high degree of authenticity of the character image, which puts forward higher requirements for the character modeling and other technologies.
According to Sima Huapeng, chairman of Silicon-based Intelligence, reality is the primary development trend of virtual digital humans. “The more you do it, the more you do it, the more real it is. There are many genres in it.” He said that the process of creating a digital human is very boring. One team is responsible for the body, and another team is responsible for the face, head, and mouth…” When you actually put them all together, the moment he opens his mouth, it’s exciting.”
At present, this technology realizes the digital twin of voice and appearance, and also realizes some emotional interaction.But if you want to truly “copy” the thoughts of the deceased, there is actually still some way to go.
In any case, the advancement of technology has finally made the “communication” between the living and the dead a reality. Although some agree, some deny.
“The real death is not death, but being forgotten.” Sima Huapeng said that they are creating a “Metaverse” of the deceased. As said in “Dream-hunting Travel Notes”, people have two deaths, one is the death of the body, and the other is forgotten. “We hope that by creating such a Metaverse, the files of each deceased will be recorded in the digital cloud, so that he will always ‘live’ in the cloud, so that he can communicate with future generations, relatives and friends across dimensions in the future.”
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