Will AI Let Us Talk to Dead Loved Ones?

By Mark A. Kellner
Posted September 03, 2019

Standup comic-turned-movie director Woody Allen once said, “I don't want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve immortality through not dying.”

But Andrew Kaplan, age 78, of Rancho Mirage, California—near Palm Springs—has his own plan for “immortality,” and it involves artificial intelligence, or AI for short.

Kaplan, The Washington Post reported, will “become ‘AndyBot,’ a virtual person who will be immortalized in the cloud for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years.”

According to the report, “If all goes according to plan, future generations will be able to interact with him using mobile devices or voice computing platforms such as Amazon’s Alexa, asking him questions, eliciting stories, and drawing upon a lifetime’s worth of advice long after his physical body is gone.”

Kaplan told the newspaper that even though his own parents “have been gone for decades,” the senior citizen still wishes he could speak with them. By making a digital version of himself, Kaplan hopes to help his children and grandchildren, he said.



Can people really talk to the dead?



“Alexa, Let Me Hear from Grandpa”

A startup firm called HereAfter will record a person’s life story and then “use conversational artificial intelligence and the voice computing platform of Amazon Alexa to share these stories with family members and friends of your choosing.”

The firm’s website states, “Our goal is to capture the true spirit of people and to enable their stories to become immortal.”

Another company, Eternime, promises customers can “become virtually immortal” as the company “collects your thoughts, stories and memories, curates them and creates an intelligent avatar that looks like you. This avatar will live forever and allow other people in the future to access your memories.”

That modern technology would be used to keep alive a “memory” or “image” of a deceased loved one is not all that surprising. James Vlahos, a journalist and AI designer, created “Dadbot,” a software program that allows him to exchange messages with “a computerized avatar of his late father,” the Post reported. He’s now able to hear recordings of his father talking about his life, singing, and telling jokes.

It’s not too much to suggest that these avatars and virtual reality programs are just the latest evolution of family photo albums, camcorder videotapes, and even smartphone video recordings. AI technology may just be the next step in a continuing process of capturing memories of those who’ve passed on.



Did the Witch of Endor call up the dead?



Not an Occult Practice

Efforts to capture the sight and sound of a person forever is not the same as a practice long popular—and long disapproved in Scripture—of trying to “contact” a deceased individual using a person who claims the ability to facilitate such communication.

In the fifth book of the Old Testament, we read the following warning: “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD” (Deuteronomy 18:10–12).

Note these words carefully: Any attempt to “call up the dead” is “an abomination” to God. In 1 Samuel 28:3–20, we read the story of King Saul, who went to a medium in an effort to contact the deceased prophet Samuel. The spirit imitating the prophet relayed a curse on Saul, that the king would die because Saul had not consulted the Lord, but instead turned to a medium. (Amazing Facts offers a free online Bible study explaining what really happened with Saul. And Pastor Doug Batchelor has a video sermon on the same subject.)

In 1 Chronicles 10:13, 14, we read a concise summary of the outcome: “So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the LORD, because he did not keep the word of the LORD, and also because he consulted a medium for guidance. But he did not inquire of the LORD; therefore, He killed him, and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse.”

God wants us to go to Him when we are faced with difficult challenges in life, and He also wants to protect us. Because, as the Bible makes plain, “there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). If there’s no knowledge in the grave, who are you contacting? It’s not your loved one, but a demon pretending to be that person. If “Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14), then it would be easy for one of his demons to transform themselves into dear Aunt Tillie.

The dead are dead. Andrew Kaplan may create recordings that others will hear and view after he’s gone, but those are images; the real Andrew will be at rest in his grave. Every person who has lived is similarly at rest. Those who are living today will also die, unless Jesus returns first, at which point those who believe in Christ will be translated into eternity without seeing death.

But forget about communicating with spirits or ghosts. The article “Dead Man Talking?” will set the record straight and provide the answers you need.

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