The Dilemmas of Using Artificial Intelligence to Raise the Dead

    The Volkswagen announcement that generates debate

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    An advertising campaign showing the late Elis Regina and her daughter Maria Rita playing a duet has sparked antagonistic reactions on social media.In the Volkswagen piece, the singer who died in the eighties was brought back to life using Artificial Intelligence (AI). She appears driving a Kombi and singing Como nuestros padres, by Belchior.

    Although many fans and netizens praised and were excited by the announcement, others questioned whether it is ethical to use the image of a person who is no longer alive in a fictional context.

    The sociologist and impact coordinator at the Center for Artificial Intelligence at the University of São Paulo (USP), GlaucoArbix, told that the issue is controversial.This is because it raises debates about the psychological effects of bringing the dead to life using technology or because it touches on issues such as consent, veracity and the finiteness of life.

    Ethical risks

    For Arbix, using AI in a non-transparent, informed or conscious way carries many risks, especially when there is spatial displacement or attribution of false statements to the person portrayed.

    “Not because you can do it, you should do it,” he says. “It is one thing to keep a film of someone who died in the drawer to see it a few times and another thing is to recreate (his image) in new conditions, as if he were still alive.”

    According to the USP professor, society is not prepared to deal with this spatial and circumstantial displacement of deceased figures. Doing so can be “disturbing” for some people.

    “The finiteness of life is sedimented in social history. Even for those who believe in life after death, it is always something more inaccessible and different from what we see now, which we are not prepared for as a society.

    It can destroy the name and reputation

    The Volkswagen campaign was not the first to use artificial intelligence to stage realities with people already dead.In the film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, actress Carrie Fisher was also digitally recreated to appear as the young Princess Leia.

    In June, musician Paul McCartney said artificial intelligence had been used so that the voice of John Lennon – his bandmate who died in 1980 – could be used in a new Beatles song.

    The technology, also known as deepfake, is often used to create fake videos featuring celebrities and political figures.In the case of the automaker’s announcement, artificial intelligence was trained on Elis Regina’s facial recognition.This is unlike what is done in AI projects that use pre-trained technology from generic data.

    According to information disclosed by the Volkswagen company, the AI ​​received extensive training with different technologies, combining the performance of the double with the movements and images of Elis. The above to reach the result of the singer’s face in the ad.

    Double edged sword

    Although the Volkswagen video was made with the authorization and participation of Elis Regina’s daughter, Arbix believes that this technology can also be used for dangerous purposes, distorting the facts, and even in the pornography or pedophilia industry.

    “The person can be the object of a recreation that ends up destroying his name and reputation,” he says. “But it also raises questions from the standpoint of the integrity of family life.”

    According to the sociologist, there is still no consensus among the medical community about the psychological effects of seeing or even conversing through AI with loved ones who have died.

    Several technology companies, including the American HereAfter AI, have been developing technologies to develop a digital version of someone. Thus it would be possible to create an artificial dialogue with a deceased person using personal information, voice tools and advanced artificial intelligence.

    “From a psychological point of view, some say that it can help maintain memory and comfort the family. But there are also those who are totally against it”, says GlaucoArbix.

    Some have even tried to protect themselves from it. Actor Robin Williams, who died in 2014, placed a restriction on the use of his likeness for 25 years after his death in his will.The American wanted to prevent his figure from being reproduced using holograms or other technologies for commercial purposes.

    Image rights and consent

    Regarding image rights or consent, the sociologist GlaucoArbix believes that Brazilian legislation already has all the conflicts well resolved.“The legislation and the way in which our society sees it account for the dilemma. Families have the copyright,” he says.

    “Discussing whether, for example, Elis Regina would authorize the use of her image in this advertisement is naive, because she did not authorize the disclosure of photos either, but this issue is provided for in the legislation.”

    For Sara Suárez-Gonzalo, a professor at the Open University of Catalonia and a researcher on the subject, the debate should go further. For her, the consent of relatives is not enough.

    “Even when they die, people are not mere things that others can do with as they please. That is why our societies consider that it is wrong to desecrate or disrespect the memory of the dead”.

    Moral obligations to the dead

    “In other words, we have certain moral obligations towards the dead, to the extent that death does not necessarily imply that people cease to exist in a morally relevant way,” she says in an article published on The Conversation website.

    According to Suárez-Gonzalo, the debate is even more complex when it comes to bots that collect personal data to replicate conversations with deceased people, because someone’s personality “requires large amounts of personal information, such as data from social networks that reveal very sensitive characteristics. ”.

    The researcher also highlights that another ethical issue that involves the use of AI is responsibility for the results of the technology, especially in the case of harmful effects.If a bot, a video or an image created with technology, for example, causes damage to the mental health of a relative, who will be responsible?

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