The story of Joshua Barbeau, a 33-year-old freelance writer living in Bradford, Canada, is no different from an emotionally romantic science fiction novel. In 2012, Barbeau’s former fiancee Jessica Pereira died of a rare liver disease at the age of 23. He never forgot her death. Last September, Barbeau stumbled upon a website called Project December, where people could talk to chatbots powered by the most advanced AI system.
According to a special report in the San Francisco Chronicle. September is more difficult for Barbeau, because Pereira’s birthday happens to be in the same month. When he missed Pereira on September 23, Gbagbo thought it was not strange to use technology to contact the dead. Then, on the website, he started to create a new robot and named it “Jessica Courtney Pereira”. Perform more steps and add introduction, hit more keys here and there, the screen flashes: “Matrix Jessica Courtney Pereira G3 has been initialized.”
There are many more stories about Joshua-Jessica, but we will focus on what motivated the writer to create a robot eight years after his ex-fiancée left the world and somehow brought her back to his Life.
Example of this conversation:
Joshua: Jessica… is it really you?
Jessica: Of course it is me! Who else can it be? :PI is the girl you are crazy in love with! 😉 How could you still ask?
Joshua: you are dead.
Jessica: It doesn’t sound right…how can you talk to a dead person?
This is just one of many conversations that Joshua had with the chatbot on Project December. But he kept reminding himself that this couldn’t be true, because Jessica had been dead for eight years. “Intellectually, I know this is not the real Jessica,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle. “But your emotions are not something rational.” Sadness has a way to become “knots in your body, right? Sometimes, when you pull them in the right way, they get untied,” he added.
The issue of using artificial intelligence to recover people is a hot topic on social media. On July 23, author Robin Sloan posted the following on Twitter:
How long is it from the first “no simulation” command? After someone dies, does such an order have legal effect?CC @timhwang
-Robinsloan (@robinsloan) July 23, 2021
Science fiction writer Madeleine Ashby shared in reply to Sloan: “These are “personality rights”, including the right to use portraits. They still exist after death. It seems that the tricky part is who owns the right to include the right. The unique title of the rights portrait, which is a speech issue and copyright issue.”
These are “personality rights”, including the right to use portraits. They survived after death. What seems to get tricky is who owns the right to include the unique title of the portrait, which is a voice issue and copyright issue. https://t.co/qzKkDky2fX https://t.co/TkAsGovqcK
-Madeline Ashby 🇨🇦 (@MadelineAshby) July 23, 2021