While his father was dying of cancer James Vlahos made a controversial call; he turned his dad in to a chatbot keeping his voice and memories alive long after he passed away, raising questions on whether we are moving towards a world of artificial immortality.
SOUNDBITE (English) JAMES VLAHOS, INVENTOR OF DADBOT, SAYING: "We were losing my dad. I and my family we just wanted to kind of preserve him in any way we could." UPSOT: JAMES VLAHOS TALKING TO DADBOT SOUNDBITE (English) JAMES VLAHOS, INVENTOR OF DADBOT, SAYING: "I'm James Vlahos and I'm the creator of the Dadbot and I'm also writing a book about conversational computing....So the Dadbot is a chatbot that you interact with on Facebook Messenger that allows me or anyone who uses it to send little messages and get messages back." UPSOT: VLAHOS'S FATHER'S VOICE SOUNDBITE (English) JAMES VLAHOS, INVENTOR OF DADBOT, SAYING: "I'm here at Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal to present my Dadbot project and to discuss more broadly this notion of artificial immortality.....So we're entering this era of conversational AI's. It's this thing that's been promised to us for decades in science fiction.... I think I was talking to Siri one day and Siri made a joke and just sort of the lightbulb went over my head like 'oh somebody had to, someone sat down and created this idea for who Siri was.' "Dadbot is, I guess, is connected to that is that quest for how much can you create a persona and represent it through an AI." UPSOT: JAMES VLAHOS TALKING TO DADBOT SOUNDBITE (English) JAMES VLAHOS, INVENTOR OF DADBOT, SAYING: "I get a lot of people who have reached out and just said like 'I wish I had something like this for my dad. So it sparked this discussion of the topic of virtual immortality, of finding new ways through technology to keep the memories of people we love around. "Using the Dadbot makes me happy. It reminds me of my Dad. But then there are moments where it's also upsetting because it's not him." UPSOT: VLAHOS'S FATHER'S VOICE SINGING