The ethics of resurrecting Marilyn Monroe and family histories with AI


Discover how AI is bringing Marilyn Monroe back into the spotlight and how it could give you one more conversation with loved ones lost, redefining the boundaries between the past and the present in just a click.

AI has already boldly crossed the frontiers of content creation, offering us glimpses into realities once confined to the imagination. Metaphysics astounded the world by producing deepfake TikTok videos featuring Tom Cruise. It even resurrected the King of Rock 'n' Roll, Elvis Presley, to clinch a posthumous victory on "America's Got Talent." Such innovations underscore the profound capabilities of AI to emulate human intricacies with astonishing fidelity.

However, the recent unveiling of Digital Marilyn, a creation of Soul Machines in collaboration with Authentic Brands Group, marks a significant milestone in the digital resurrection of iconic figures. This partnership leverages the intellectual property of Marilyn Monroe, acquired by Authentic from Anna Strasberg in 2011, to breathe virtual life into a digital avatar capable of real-time interaction with fans and brands.

Employing advanced technologies such as natural language processing, deep learning, and GPT 3.5, Digital Marilyn can mimic Monroe's distinctive voice and mannerisms, share anecdotes, and deliver personalized greetings, offering a novel and intimate engagement experience.

The advent of biological AI, epitomized by Digital Marilyn, represents a fusion of technology and human emotion, transcending traditional boundaries of interaction between machines and individuals. By emulating the complexities of the human nervous system, this innovation enables Digital Marilyn to generate responses infused with realistic emotions and engage in dynamic, fluid conversations that adapt to the nuances of individual user interactions.

These capabilities are augmented by proprietary camera and microphone technology, allowing for a multimodal experience where Digital Marilyn can interpret users' emotions and respond in kind, creating unprecedented personal connection and engagement.

Such hyper-personalization ensures that every interaction is tailor-made, analyzing preferences to deliver responses that resonate personally, extending the average conversation length to an impressive 20 minutes.

From Star Wars to Digital Marilyn: legacy in the age of AI

The elephant in the room is that this first attempt at AI reincarnation is more creepy and amateurish than impressive. But we should be thinking about the future possibilities and the can of proverbial worms being opened up here. Digital Marilyn thrusts us into a tangled ethical debate, raising critical questions about the rights and moral implications of digitally resurrecting individuals without their consent or control.

The essence of this debate pivots on the delicate balance between honoring the legacy of cultural icons and safeguarding their dignity beyond life. As we venture further into creating digital personas of the departed, the ethical quandary posed by Digital Marilyn invites us to critically examine where we draw the line between innovative homage and intrusive exploitation, challenging us to redefine the boundaries of respect and responsibility in the digital age.

We have already seen the digital recreations of Peter Cushing and Carrie Fisher in the Star Wars saga and the de-aging of Mark Hamill for "The Mandalorian." As these trends evolve, they challenge everyone to rethink their legacy in this digital age.

The entertainment industry, a bastion of human creativity, finds itself at a crossroads, grappling with AI's ascent and the subsequent ethical and professional ramifications. Hollywood writers, the architects of narrative magic, famously took to picket lines, voicing their dissent against an emerging AI-dominated landscape that threatens to eclipse the human touch in storytelling.

As AI script writers, virtual influencers, and bringing back movie stars from the dead become the norm, increasing protests illuminate the growing discomfort with AI's encroachment on territories once deemed exclusively human.

Beyond Hollywood: how AI's resurrection of the dead affects everyone

As "AI everywhere" flirts with buzzword status, we are just beginning to see its implications in our daily lives. From algorithms rewriting the rules of romance to bridging the accessibility gap for disabled and older individuals, AI-based personalization increasingly determines the songs we listen to, the movies we watch, and the products we buy. But as ubiquitous AI becomes a reality, what does it mean to be human?

What happens to your digital life when you pass away? Do you want to be remembered or forgotten? With an increasing number of apps that allow people to resurrect their relatives using AI, the decision might already be out of your hands, even if you close the door on digitally dead accounts.

The advent of AI grief bots and the digital resurrection of iconic movie stars represent a paradigm shift in our relationship with memory and loss, touching all of us with its universal implications.

For many, conversing with a digital replica of a departed loved one or witnessing a late movie star grace our screens once more offers a comforting bridge between the past and the present. Technology provides novel ways to preserve and interact with memories, potentially easing the pain of grief by providing a semblance of continuity in our relationships with those who have passed.

However, this comfort has its complexities. It weaves a delicate tapestry of ethical, psychological, and societal considerations that challenge our conventional understanding of grief and remembrance. As we stand at the cusp of normalizing digital reincarnations, the impact extends beyond personal solace, prompting a broader reflection on the essence of human connection and the legacy we leave behind in the digital age.

From Digital Marilyn to future legacies: AI's impact on how we remember

As we embrace these digital echoes of loved ones and icons, we must also grapple with their inherent limitations and ethical difficulties. Creating grief bots and digital personas sparks a vital conversation about consent, exploitation, and the authenticity of the connections they facilitate.

While offering a new dimension to memory conservation and an innovative approach to coping with loss, they underscore the irreplaceable depth of genuine human interactions. As this technology progresses, it beckons us to ponder our digital afterlife and the future of our legacies, challenging us to consider how we navigate our existence in a world where the lines between life and death, reality and digital resurrection, increasingly blur.

Digital Marilyn could be perceived as laughable and creepy in its current form. Still, it should also offer a moment for us all to engage in more thoughtful discourse on how we honor those who have departed while safeguarding the dignity and sanctity of their memories.


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