AI simulations of dead people are "high risk" because of the psychological impact they can have on humans, researchers say.

CAN IMITATE DECEASED PEOPLE

A new study by ethics experts at the University of Cambridge has found that AI chatbots known as "deadbots", which can mimic the personalities of deceased people, should require security protocols to protect their surviving friends and relatives.

SOME ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE COMPANIES OFFER THIS FEATURE

Some AI companies are already offering customers the option of using AI to simulate the language and personality traits of a deceased loved one.

"THE PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACT CAN BE DEVASTATING"

Co-author Dr. Tomasz Hollanek from the Leverhulme Centre said: "It is vital that digital afterlife services take into account the rights and consent of not only the people they recreate, but also those who will have to interact with the simulations. These services risk causing people great distress if their deceased loved ones are subjected to unwanted digital hauntings from alarmingly accurate AI recreations. The potential psychological impact, especially at an already difficult time, could be devastating."

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The findings were published in the journal Philosophy and Technology in a study titled 'Griefbots, Deadbots, Postmortem Avatars: on Responsible Applications of Generative AI in the Digital Afterlife Industry'.

The study details how AI chatbot companies that claim to be able to bring back the dead could use this technology to spam family and friends with messages and advertisements using the digital likeness of the deceased.

The researchers warned that such an outcome would be tantamount to being stalked by the dead.

"PEOPLE COULD LEAVE SIMULATED ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AS A FAREWELL GIFT"

"Rapid advances in generative AI mean that almost anyone with internet access and some basic knowledge can revive a deceased loved one," said Dr. Katarzyna Nowaczyk-Basinska, one of the study's authors. At the same time, a person can leave an AI simulation as a farewell gift to loved ones who are not ready to process their grief in this way. 

The study's recommendations include measures to terminate dead robots, as well as increased transparency about how the technology is being used.