A recently-deceased woman has been able to speak with her family after her cremation, thanks to the power of artificial intelligence.
Marina Smith, 87, passed away in June 2022 and, thanks to startup company StoryFile, was able to have a fully fledged conversation with her family using its ‘holographic conversational video experience’.
The company was actually created by Smith’s son, Stephen, and was originally made to preserve the memories of Holocaust survivors. Utilising 20 different cameras, Smith was asked around 250 questions prior to her death and this information was fed through a piece of software that was able recreate her virtually after her passing.
What’s even more amazing is that this software isn’t just for the ‘rich and privileged’, as one may think. Ranging from a free trial sporting 33 questions and one-minute video answers to a $499 one-time premium package, anyone can gain access to the technology and use it to create these videos however they see fit. The company even has special ‘Story Pack Bundles’ starting at $49 which can be gifted to your mum, dad or someone special.
As you can imagine, being able to converse with the dead must have been quite a shock to the attending family, as Stephen was able to have a conversation with his late mother in real time and even opened the floor to questions from the rest of her family.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Stephen said: “Mum answered questions from grieving relatives after they had watched her cremation.”
“The extraordinary thing was that she answered their questions with new details and honesty,” he continued. “People feel emboldened when recording their data. Mourners might get a freer, truer version of their lost loved one.”
However, Smith isn’t the only who has been brought back from the great beyond with the help of AI. Elf star Ed Asner was also able to answer the questions of mourners at his funeral earlier this year. Asner’s son, Matt, told Axios last month: “Nothing could prepare me for what I was going to witness when I saw it.” Matt went on to mention that others were “a little creeped out by it” because it was “like having him in the room.”
Not only has StoryFile provided a product to let you connect with loved ones who are no longer here, they have also used it to bring history alive in the form of their Black Voices Collections. From American poet Nikki Giovanni, to civil rights activist and one of the original Freedom Riders, Hank Thomas, this collection allows you to ask questions and dive into Black history like never before.
While this new method of communicating with the dead is extremely impressive, if a little creepy, StoryFile isn’t the only company working on such technology. In 2022, tech giant Amazon showed off a new feature on its Alexa device of a dead nan reading her grandchild a bedtime story.
A little unsettling if you ask me, however, this type of technology seems to be picking up and, who knows, maybe in a few years time the dead will only be a phone call away?