A startup company called StoryFile has pioneered a new product that allows deceased people to address mourners at their funerals through the power of artificial intelligence.
Known as the 'digital afterlife' industry, StoryFile uses 20 cameras while asking a person 250 questions before death. This data is then fed into software that creates a so-called digital clone of that person.
Marina Smith, an 87-year-old woman who passed in June, was given a chance to use StoryFile. Smith's Los Angeles-based son Stephen is the company's founder and shocked funeralgoers by creating an interactive illusion of her on a screen during the memorial service:
"Mum answered questions from grieving relatives after they had watched her cremation," Stephen told The Telegraph.
"The extraordinary thing was that she answered their questions with new details and honesty," he added. "People feel emboldened when recording their data. Mourners might get a freer, truer version of their lost loved one."
Earlier this year, a digital copy of former Screen Actors Guild president Ed Asner was made possible at his funeral by StoryFile. Axios reported mourners "conversed" with the holographic representation of Asner.
"Nothing could prepare me for what I was going to witness when I saw it," Matt Asner, the actor's son, said last month.
Asner added that some funeralgoers were "creeped out" because it was almost "like having him in the room."
The digital afterlife industry is just taking off. Amazon has decided to jump into the game by providing an experimental Alexa feature that learns the voice of a deceased loved one.
Even Microsoft has acquired patented technology using social media posts to reincarnate people as "chatbots."