November 2023

The Ethical Dilemmas of Resurrecting the Dead Using AI

The Ethical Dilemmas of Resurrecting the Dead Using AI


In the digital era, artificial intelligence (AI) has sparked an ethical debate by bringing deceased individuals back to life in fictional contexts. The recent Volkswagen advertising campaign, which used AI to recreate the late singer Elis Regina, triggered mixed reactions. While some praised the innovation, others questioned the ethics of manipulating the image of someone already deceased.


Sociologist Glauco Arbix, from the Center for Artificial Intelligence at the University of São Paulo, highlights the controversy surrounding the psychological effects and ethical dilemmas that arise when using AI to resurrect the dead. Arbix warns of the risks of lack of transparency in the use of this technology, especially when it involves spatial displacement or attributing false statements to the portrayed person.



The Volkswagen campaign is not an isolated case. Artificial intelligence technology, known as deepfake, has been used in movies such as "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" and more recently in creating a new Beatles song with the artificial voice of John Lennon.


Arbix points out that while the technology can have positive applications, such as preserving memories and comforting families, it also poses risks, such as the destruction of people's reputations or misuse in the pornography industry.


Consent and image rights are also hot topics. Although the Volkswagen campaign had the authorization of Elis Regina's daughter, the sociologist emphasizes the need to address ethical and legal limits on the use of the image of deceased individuals.


The emergence of companies like HereAfter AI, which allows the creation of digital avatars from memories, raises new questions about the nature of "grief technology." While some find solace in interacting with digital versions of deceased loved ones, researcher Sara Suárez-Gonzalo underscores the importance of considering moral obligations to the deceased and the potential manipulation of sensitive data.


Inteligencia artificial para revivir a los muertos


Ultimately, using artificial intelligence to resurrect the dead presents ethical and psychological challenges that society has not fully resolved. As technology advances, the need to establish clear boundaries and address these ethical concerns becomes crucial to ensure the responsible and respectful use of artificial intelligence in the realm of death and memory.