Want to be a digital avatar after death?
[Grief tech is here!]
Opinion piece written by Jacqui Thomas, Director and Lawyer
Grief Tech is on the rise – does this mean the end of traditional mourning?
There are a bunch of start ups out of California [eg. Here After, Seance AI, Storyfile, Replika] offering a range of different grief tech services for a range of prices.
Services include interactive video conversations with your deceased loved one, and virtual avatars you can have voice calls and text message exchanges with. What was once complete science fiction is turning into reality. I don’t think we’re close to an “Upload” like digital afterlife just yet, but at the rate that AI is developing Grief Tech is bound to see some major leaps over the coming years.
GriefTech poses some interesting questions.
There are, of course, the ethics around AI using someone’s likeness and voice, and the potential impacts this may have on grieving loved ones. There are no universal laws when it comes to processing grief and whether Grief Tech is likely to help or hinder will largely be individual (and will flux for that individual over time as they pass through seasons of their grief). There’s already been reports of mental health issues and suicide in relation to use of chatbots for companionship.
From a practical and legal view, the law already struggles with keeping up with tech advances and I doubt GriefTech will be any different.
We already talk with clients about what they’re comfortable – or not – with their executor and loved ones using certain things after death. For example, turning ashes into jewellery. When doing your estate planning you may need to consider whether you’re comfortable (or not) with being turned into a digital avatar post-death or other Grief Tech…and with how fast things are changing in the AI world it’s hard to predict/imagine what that might even look like in, say, another 50 years time [now would be a great time to pull out your crystal ball!].
As a side note, Grief Tech is another example of why it’s so important to work with a dedicated estate planning lawyer. Estate planning is a huge area of law and the sands are constantly shifting, *particularly* when it comes to anything digital estate related. Rely on someone with professional skills and knowledge in this area.
What are your thoughts on Grief Tech? Yay or nay?
The Complete Estate Plan Guidebook is for you if you want to:
The Complete Testamentary Guardian Workbook is for you if you want to: