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When Her Best Friend Died, She Rebuilt Him Using Artificial Intelligence ( 113

When Roman Mazurenko died, his friend Eugenia Kuyda created a digital monument to him: an artificial intelligent bot that could "speak" as Roman using thousands of lines of texts sent to friends and family. From the report: "It's pretty weird when you open the messenger and there's a bot of your deceased friend, who actually talks to you," Fayfer said. "What really struck me is that the phrases he speaks are really his. You can tell that's the way he would say it -- even short answers to 'Hey what's up.' It has been less than a year since Mazurenko died, and he continues to loom large in the lives of the people who knew him. When they miss him, they send messages to his avatar, and they feel closer to him when they do. "There was a lot I didn't know about my child," Roman's mother told me. "But now that I can read about what he thought about different subjects, I'm getting to know him more. This gives the illusion that he's here now."
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When Her Best Friend Died, She Rebuilt Him Using Artificial Intelligence

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  • Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by campuscodi ( 4234297 ) on Sunday October 09, 2016 @07:46AM (#53041259)
    You can't call something AI if it pulls random text lines from a config file. Talk about an overhyped term. I presume the WordPress Hello Dolly plugin is AI too, right?
    • by lorinc ( 2470890 )

      Well, it's definitely Artificial. As for the Intelligent, people chatting on text messengers rarely do more that pulling random text lines from the back of their brain that are at worse nonsensical, at best useless. So I'd pass on that one.

    • Re:Bullshit (Score:4, Funny)

      by thinkwaitfast ( 4150389 ) on Sunday October 09, 2016 @08:39AM (#53041367)
      You missed it. Everything involving a computer is called AI now. Especially if it involves a first or second order feedback system. The computer 'knows' where it is and 'knows' where it wants to be so uses the difference using the application of algorithms, typically a subtraction and multiplication.

      See, computers are smart. Smarter than most of us. How else could they do 60 multiplications a second and never make a mistake? Can you do that? I didn't think so. Computers are smarter than you, and by you, I mean all of humanity.

      The end is nigh.

      • Depending on which of the two major definitions of AI you prefer, AI is either trying to teach computers to do things that humans currently do better, or it is making computers have behaviors that we'd deem as a mark of intelligence if they were exhibited by humans.
        • I used to take many people hours or days to lay out an advert, print it, stuff it in an envelope and mail it. Can you serve up a web page in 0.4uS? I didn't think so. - Teaching computers to do things better than humans. http programmers are AI engineers.

          And inverting a 1200x1200 matrix in a millisecond is definitely the sign of intelligence. It's doubtful whether most people would ever be capable of that.

          • There were no web pages before computers, so that doesn't make sense.
          • You confuse "quick" and "smart".

            I can certainly drive a screw much faster with a power drill than I can with a screwdriver, but that's in no wise due to the power drill being more intelligent.

            • that's in no wise due to the power drill being more intelligent.

              Depends on if the power drill is driven by a a dc commutator motor or is a brushless esc []/FET driven by a uP running a commutation state machine.

              • Depends on if the power drill is driven by a a dc commutator motor or is a brushless esc/FET driven by a uP running a commutation state machine.

                That's still not enough to make it smart. It's got to be able to know when it's stripping a screw and stop on its own or something like that in order to be intelligent.

                • That's easy. There is an electronic clutch []

                  Most drills have physical clutches. In many cases physical controls are better than electronic, but not with cordless drill clutches. Physical clutches allow a certain amount of torque and then slip. That's wear and tear every time you use it. The drill is also working against itself, since the motor is putting out torque and the clutch is holding it back. With an electronic clutch, the motor only puts out as much torque as is needed. There's no extra wear and tear.

                  Stripping a screw can be detected by a rapid decrease in torque and increase in speed. Much the same way the AI in anti-lock brakes (developed in 1955) work, although in reverse.

      • You missed it. Everything involving a computer is called AI now.

        Also, any new idea involving a computer is "disruptive".

    • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bluegutang ( 2814641 ) on Sunday October 09, 2016 @09:05AM (#53041437)

      It's not pulling "random" text lines. It's pulling the text lines that best fit the context, giving (I assume) a somewhat convincing illusion that there is a person on the other end.

      This program is clearly not conscious or intelligent in the sense that human beings are. But the current usage [] of the term "AI" does not require that.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I can understand you statement, however, your comment seems to imply you know what AI is. I believe any program falls onto the spectrum of AI. Its about the recipient as it is as much about the giver. For example, how do you know I am not some advanced AI or just responding to underdeveloped responses? Again not picking a fight, but I think something to consider.

    • by geek ( 5680 )

      AI literally has no meaning anymore. I see people calling "Big Data" (another fucking buzzword) AI now. I'm sick to death of it. But you know, if Elon Musk and the Google douches keep saying the words Artificial Intelligence enough then people will start to fucking believe it.
      As to this chick, fuck her. You don't get to call it AI just because your feels hurt.

      • I used to be with you, but decided it's hopeless and now tag everything with it. Better with a fast collapse.

        Automatic lights on your new car when the sun goes down - artificial intelligence. A noise when your smoke detector smells smoke - artificial intelligence. Sprinklers automatically going on at 5am every morning - artificial intelligence. Hot water from the tank, but not too hot - artificial intelligence. The gas pump telling you to have a nice day - artificial intelligence (wasn't that polite of it

    • Re:Bullshit (Score:4, Interesting)

      by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968@gm ... minus herbivore> on Sunday October 09, 2016 @02:47PM (#53042735) Journal
      Sigh. We old greybeards know that one of the great truths is "everything old is new again" and all we have here is the millennials discovering their own versions of ELIZA [] and the stuff we were doing way back in the 70s. We had movies of machines becoming intelligent, we had people looking at what was in reality very simplistic programs and proclaiming them AI, its just the kids aren't old enough to have experienced any of this so they think they have found something profound...everything old is new again.
    • You can't call something AI if it pulls random text lines from a config file. Talk about an overhyped term. I presume the WordPress Hello Dolly plugin is AI too, right?

      I agree but I presumed the AI would be pulling speech patterns from the AI. Responding as the person would have not necessarily restricted to the text input. Kinda like how Swype and other keyboards learn your texting habits.

  • lost people (Score:4, Interesting)

    by zephvark ( 1812804 ) on Sunday October 09, 2016 @07:48AM (#53041261)

    I wanted to rebuild a friend a long time ago. It really wasn't going to happen on a 386, but I figured I'd anyway get to know him better. He was not exactly excited at the prospect. Well, privacy issues, plus the fact that the whole project was not remotely plausible.

    It still isn't . The AI isn't anywhere near close to being able to mimic a real person, yet. But I understand why you would try that, and... go for it.

    We may not be able to live forever. It's possible that some semblance of who we were can. Call them poems of humanity.

  • by bernywork ( 57298 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [notelpatsb]> on Sunday October 09, 2016 @08:10AM (#53041307) Journal

    Like everything else, it's got it's good points and it's bad...

    The whole point of (Or maybe this is just me) of dealing with someone's death, is the actual letting go part, recognising that they're gone and moving on.

    Sure there are times when I miss my friends, and I think of them fondly, whether it's the way that they laughed, smiled, pulled pranks or whatever else, but I also recognise that they're gone. Having them there as a chat bot to talk to, for me, would just, I dunno, make me keep holding onto them... and I don't know if that's healthy...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I don't see why not. You have no issues with spending hours and hours of your life over the internet talking or writing to people that you will most likely will never meet more than twice if ever.

    • I've had a struggle with something really simple - deleting someone who's died from my contact list. As the years roll on we have more and more people we know die. I know that it's a silly thing but deleting them from my contact list is something I still can't do.
    • Like everything else, it's got it's good points and it's bad...
      The whole point of (Or maybe this is just me) of dealing with someone's death, is the actual letting go part, recognising that they're gone and moving on.

      My thoughts exactly. Something disturbs me greatly about this story. It reminds me of those that live with the dead body of a loved one because they don't want to believe they're dead.

      At some point they're going to have to turn the AI off, or come to the realisation that this person wasn't just the sum of their IM output before they can move on, and the grief will hit them then.

  • Stop with this "AI" bullshit. We don't have AI, and we probably never will with the way computing is going. And no, chess playing computers and "deep learning" isn't AI even though the hypesters and people wishing for VC funs fervently try to fool the ignorant into thinking it is.
    • by mark-t ( 151149 )

      I''d argue that the only reason we won't ever have AI is because the all-important part of it, "intelligence", is ill defined in the first place. Although we seem to presume to have intelligence ourselves (rather baselessly, I might add), lacking a rigid definition, how could we ascertain if any other apparently living creature is genuinely intelligent, or if they were actually just issuing programmed responses to stimulation, not unlike computers?

      If we can come up with a solid definition of what intel

    • Stop with this "Mechanization" bull shit. We don't have Mechanization and probably never will with the way technology is going. And no, a little cogged gear or cotton gin isn't Mechanization even though the hypesters and people wishing for Development dollars try to fool the ignorant into thinking it is.

  • by Selur ( 2745445 ) on Sunday October 09, 2016 @08:47AM (#53041389)

    reminds me of Black Mirror Season Episode 1 (

  • Maybe "moving on" just ain't important anymore.

  • What's really interesting about this is how Kuyda could develop the technology. As the article says, all of us today are accumulating a digital trail of emails, text messages, social media posts, and online commentary that could be used to train this type of neural network as your digital estate.

    Don't go through life as an AC.

    • From a technical (programming, data analysis, mathematical, etc.) perspective, this article is plainly useless. It seems a very simple implementation working under highly restricted conditions; something neither complex nor innovative. There is a tremendous difference between calling something AI (really easy, mainly lately and for some people) and having a good-enough AI algorithm (really difficult or plainly impossible, depending upon your exact expectations).

      This is a non-technical article/development f
      • Everything is marketing-based now. How often do you see any real new tech? It mostly ground to a halt and advertising took its place,
        • Unfortunately, you are right. But there are still levels in the tech/marketing distribution and this one seems to consist almost exclusively in marketing.

          A simplistic chatbot from old emails = rebuilt him using artificial intelligence?! And the linked page is even worse! There isn't a single word about the algorithm or how it is supposed to work, just pictures and text about this guy, about why she decided to build it and similar abstract ideas completely unrelated to programming or data analysis!
    • You are kidding right? This could be done with a simple python script. It is just spewing text messages back from a file, probably with random() thrown in. "Digital estate"? How fucking pretentious.
  • by BlackPignouf ( 1017012 ) on Sunday October 09, 2016 @09:06AM (#53041441)
  • she'll get over him soon, and find a human replacement. AI is not there yet...
  • Prior Art, 1984 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Orgasmatron ( 8103 ) on Sunday October 09, 2016 @09:39AM (#53041527)

    `How you doing, Dixie?'
        `I'm dead, Case. Got enough time in on this Hosaka to figure that one.'
        `How's it feel?'
        `It doesn't.'
        `Bother you?'
        `What bothers me is, nothin' does.'
        `How's that?'
        `Had me this buddy in the Russian camp, Siberia, his thumb
    was frostbit. Medics came by and they cut it off. Month later
    he's tossin' all night. Elroy, I said, what's eatin' you? Goddam thumb's
    itchin', he says. So I told him, scratch it. McCoy, he says, it's the _other_
      goddam thumb.' When the construct laughed, it came through as something else,
    not laughter, but a stab of cold down Case's spine. `Do me a favor, boy.'
        `What's that, Dix?'
        `This scam of yours, when it's over, you erase this goddam thing.'

    He jacked in.
        `You ever try to crack an AI?'
        `Sure. I flatlined. First time. I was larkin', jacked up real high,
    out by Rio heavy commerce sector. Big biz, multina-
    tionals, Government of Brazil lit up like a Christmas tree. Just
    larkin' around, you know? And then I started picking up on
    this one cube, maybe three levels higher up. Jacked up there
    and made a pass.'
        `What did it look like, the visual?'
        `White cube.'
        `How'd you know it was an AI?'
        `How'd I know? Jesus. It was the densest ice I'd ever seen.
    So what else was it? The military down there don't have any-
    thing like that. Anyway, I jacked out and told my computer to
    look it up.'
        `It was on the Turing Registry. AI. Frog company owned
    its Rio mainframe.'
        Case chewed his lower lip and gazed out across the plateaus
    of the Eastern Seaboard Fission Authority, into the infinite
    neuroelectronic void of the matrix. `Tessier-Ashpool, Dixie?'
        `Tessier, yeah.'
        `And you went back?'
        `Sure. I was crazy. Figured I'd try to cut it. Hit the first
    strata and that's all she wrote. My joeboy smelled the skin
    frying and pulled the trodes off me. Mean shit, that ice.'
        `And your EEG was flat.'
        `Well, that's the stuff of legend, ain't it?'
        Case jacked out. `Shit,' he said, `how do you think Dixie
    got himself flatlined, huh? Trying to buzz an AI. Great...'
        `Go on,' she said, `the two of you are supposed to be
    dynamite, right?'

        `Dix,' Case said, `I wanna have a look at an AI in Berne.
    Can you think of any reason not to?'
        `Not unless you got a morbid fear of death, no.'

  • "When Her Best Friend Died, She Rebuilt Him Using Artificial Intelligence"

    We're supposed to not be critical of this ridiculous statement in deference to the feelings of someone who lost a love one? That's a new low in Slashdot publishing
  • Ray Kurzweil in his Singularity books seems to think that a computer that can mimic a person is as good as that person so this guy must not be dead.

  • I for one detest the click-baity headline.
  • I've read or watched this sci-fi before.

  • necroteliphillia, or something like that.

  • But why wait until someone is dead?

    I would be quite interested in something like this combing the internet and by text messages for all my posts and creating an AI that would respond like I would. At the very least, it could give insight to my friends and family after I've gone. Particularly if a decade after I'm dead my kids would want to ask me a question.

  • They did this in various Star Trek episodes at least thrice that I can think of, using holo-technology to host it.
    • In one episode, data unwillingly hosted the dead personality of his creator's mentor, his grandfather if you will.

      • Yeah, I'm up to at least five that I can think of now, if you include TNG, DS9, Voyager. I have no doubt there are more.

MESSAGE ACKNOWLEDGED -- The Pershing II missiles have been launched.