MIT startup promises to let you to Skype with the dearly departed

Where do you draw the line between digital memorial and digital immortality?, a startup launching out of MIT’s Entrepreneurship Development Program, claims it will bridge the divide with AI and the most personal data mining of all: Your memories, loved ones, and personality.

The startup’s landing page does not offer a lot of detail, but the premise is relatively simple: If you give the team enough data about you — your chat logs, your email, your social network accounts, your photos — its algorithms can digitally reconstruct a chat bot to act on your behalf after you’re gone. Imagine: The frowning disapproval of not just a generation of grandparents, but a chorus of clucking from a digitally replicated generation of great-great-great-great grandparents, shaking their head as the kids fly by on their hoverscooters.


That is their pitch: “It generates a virtual YOU, an avatar that emulates your personality and can interact with, and offer information and advice to your family and friends after you pass away,’’ the site’s copy promises. “What if your children or grand children would know more about you and your life? What if they would be more like you, think more like you?’’

It’s hard to imagine that working out well, and all too easy to imagine that the same technology could create even better web spam bots to infiltrate and market. In fact, the whole site, which has a staff list and an email form to stay up-t0-date, feels more like a viral marketing campaign than an actual company.

I spoke briefly with the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship which confirmed Marius Ursache, listed as the startup’s chief executive, was involved with MIT’s entrepreneurship program, but was not aware of this specific startup (which means just about nothing given the number of the school’s entrepreneurs).

MIT promised to try and put me in touch and gather more information. I’ll update when I hear more.

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