How a man kept his father’s memory alive using artificial intelligence

Wednesday July 19, 2017 more stories from this episode James Vlahos lost his father John to lung cancer in February, but he still talks to him every week. That is, he talks to the version of his father that lives on through Dadbot, an artificially intelligent chatbot he designed to retain his dad’s experiences and personality. “It either brings a smile to my face and a warm feeling sometimes, and at other times it brings a tear to my eye,” the journalist from Berkeley, Calif., told As It Happens guest host Helen Mann. “It can make him feel closer sometimes, or I can be painfully aware that I’m talking to a computer program that I created that very clearly is not him.” ‘What if I could make this perfect version of a Dadbot? Would that start to get a little too weird?’ – John Vlahos Vlahos documented his experience creating the chatbot in Wired magazine’s August cover story, “Dadbot.” The bot operates through Facebook Messenger, and it carries out conversations using John Vlahos’s own stories and words. Occasionally, Dadbot will play a recording of his father telling a joke, spinning a yarn or singing a song. It all started as Vlahos’s project to document his father’s oral history before he died. He recorded dozens of…

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