Have Breakfast With Your Dead Spouse In VR

Have Breakfast With Your Dead Spouse In VR
November 16, 2016
Virtual reality will change our perception of death


What seems like it is taken straight from a storyline of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror is constantly becoming more plausible as researchers toy with the idea of creating simulations of deceased loved ones that we could communicate with through VR.


VR has been touted as the next huge technological breakthrough with the likes of Oculus Rift and Sony, through its Playstation 4, creating machines that allow people to immerse themselves in different worlds, mainly for gaming, through headsets.


However, some experts believe that the futuristic technology could be used to convey totally different experiences and even allow people to reconnect with dead loved ones to help ease the stages of bereavement.


Muhammad A. Ahmad, a researcher from the department of computer science at the University of Minnesota, says that this will one day be possible.

Virtual reality will be able to digitally preserve our deceased loved ones


In an article for Aeon, Mr Ahmad wrote: “You wake up, get ready for work, have some toast and coffee with your spouse, then wave goodbye. It’s your typical workday. 


“There is, however, something unusual: your beloved has been dead for many years. You didn’t have breakfast with your spouse – but rather with a simulation of your spouse.


“The simulation lives in a virtual environment, perhaps accessed by a device such as the Oculus Rift. A digital bereavement company has captured and analysed torrents of data about your husband to create a digital likeness.

It could help people deal with grief


“His voice, his gait, his idiosyncrasies and mannerisms, the undulations of his laugh – all are replicated with near-perfect similitude.”


The VR could use a plethora of digital data available to the creators, including social media activity, videos and even personal information to make the digital person as realistic as possible.

We may soon lead lives in virtual reality

While many say that a virtual copy of the deceased person would never be as good as the real deal, Mr Ahmad hit back by saying that technological advancements would make this possible.


He wrote: “This is akin to saying that a chess program is not going to be able to play chess in the same artful manner that a human champion does.


“While IBM’s Deep Blue had an exhaustive search-based chess-playing architecture that was less than elegant, it did accomplish the task of defeating the greatest chess grandmaster who ever lived.”


The computer scientist added that while the technology is not quite there yet, we must begin having the discussion.


He said: “If we don’t start a discussion about the possibility and viability of simulations of the deceased now, then they will be thrust upon us when we’re not ready for them in the near future.


“The road will be fraught with moral dilemmas and questions about the human conditions. 


“Soon, the line that divides the living from the dead might not be so clear.”

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