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A Christian think tank warns against AI “griefbots”

Dr. Nathan Mladin, creator of the report "AI and the Afterlife: From Digital Mourning to Mind Uploading," emphasizes the dangers of griefbots, arguing that they are "deceptive".

“Griefbots” or “ghostbots” have been trialled worldwide, indicating a growing market for digital products that focus on processing grief. The technology uses artificial intelligence (AI) and information about a deceased person’s voice, experiences, characteristics and beliefs to build an avatar that can communicate with their loved ones via an app. 

Even though this technology is not overly popular, statistics show that 24% of young people aged between 18-24 years are interested in creating digital versions of their deceased loved ones. 

Dr Mladin pinpoints the dangers of this technology and advises Christians to dismiss anything that imitates talking to the dead: “There are privacy concerns, concerns to do with consent, and how that data is procured. Can someone just collect articles that you or I might have written and publicly available images with us and just create a digital replica of us and put it out there after we have died, or even while we’re alive? These are all huge questions that our society in this AI revolution kind of context is having to grapple with. There’s existing legislation to cover some of these things, but with some applications, it’s slightly more behind and it needs to catch up. We now have the possibility of talking to these simulations and having these simulations talk back at you; that’s where we are particularly concerned because that feels like intrinsically deceptive. Having a very realistic image avatar of your brother or your sister or your parents talk back at you; there is real potential there for being deceived. Not that the creators want to deceive you directly, but you’re still being deceived because you think you’re interacting with the actual presence of your loved one. And, in fact, it’s a bot that’s been trained on some data. I think a lot of people who have abandoned or have just never really fully grasped the reality of eternity and the promise of resurrection life are reaching for these things as a way of creating an afterlife. But for those of us who have an enduring hope [we remember], indeed death is not the end, it’s a passageway, it’s sleep. If you take Jesus’s words to heart and you take that seriously, then we have a better hope that we will see our loved ones after death. So I think this is more of a trap that we should avoid, than something we should step into”.


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