The Christ in Prophecy Journal

AI Talking with the Dead

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If you could, would you want to talk with someone who has died? What if that person was someone you deeply loved and cared for?

I asked if you could because we now have technology that promises to make that scenario possible. Here’s a technology issue: it doesn’t go backward once it reaches a certain level. It only advances. Our world is now promoting it has the technology to have a conversation with the dead.

Dadbot and HereAfter AI

How do these conversations take place? Through a chatbot called Dadbot. Dadbot is on an interactive app called HereAfter AI. This app promotes the idea that you can now talk to your deceased loved one, and they can talk back.

Dadbot technology and HereAfter AI were introduced within the last seven years. Both are technological platforms that, as they say, let the dead live on. Loved ones interact with a customized voice avatar using a smart speaker, mobile app, or desktop app. The avatar responds to questions through Alexa voice recognition technology.

Digital Immortality

These companies set up interviews in which those who participate tell their life stories. It has already been experienced that sometimes the stories shared in these interviews are told for the very first time, and in those cases, their loved ones were not even aware of these life events until after their loved one had passed away. There was no opportunity for them to seek further answers or explanations. In a few cases, this lack of certain knowledge compounded the grief they were already experiencing.

The creator of Dadbot created this platform in 2017 after his father passed away. Because of this technology, the creator says he still constantly chats with his father. The deceased father tells his son stories about his childhood, a crush he had on the girl who lived across from his childhood home; he tells stories about his childhood pet rabbit and tells his living son about how he sang in operas and became an attorney.

Hereafter AI is not the only technology that promises digital immortality through chatbots. A startup tech company in Japan has designed robots that look like and act like the deceased. Using the digital footprint the deceased has left behind, the robot mimics the deceased’s mannerisms, speech, and gestures. The robot is a humanoid, and it has a mask of the deceased’s face so you can look into the face of your loved one as you communicate with them.

Now that we have this technology, what do we do with it? Those in this industry admit conversational AI tech is still in its infant stage, and as I said, this technology is not going to go backward; it will only advance. Designers are already working on future versions, versions that aim to better understand the intimacy of personal conversations.

Anthropicm and Claude 3

Another AI startup, Anthropicm, has publicly said its latest AI version of Claude 3 has already advanced in its human-like understanding, allowing it to have more intimate conversations. Anthropic said its Claude 3 family sets “a new standard for intelligence.”

HereAfter AI was introduced in 2019, just two years after the debut of StoryFile, which is another company that produces interactive videos where avatars make eye contact, breathe, and blink as they respond to questions. One of their clients said she still turns to her father for advice, but she doesn’t receive guidance in person because her father has been dead for more than a year.

Cambridge University

A study from Cambridge University in the United Kingdom is concerned with how these chatbots may cause psychological harm. Their study has concluded that the potential psychological effect could be devastating. The study, published in the journal Philosophy and Technology, highlights the potential for companies to use deadbots to advertise products to family members of a departed loved one by insisting a dead parent is still “with you.”

Companies could use chatbots to spam surviving family and friends with unsolicited notifications, reminders, and updates about the services they provide, which Cambridge describes as being “stalked by the dead.”

While this technology allowing loved ones to communicate and interact with their deceased family members is still considered new, my concern is where does this go from here? How evil will this technology become? Scripture repeatedly warns us to beware of false teachers and deception. This chatbot technology can take deception to a whole new level.

  • “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Mathew 7:15)
  • “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.” (Matthew 24:24)
  • “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)
  • “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned, and in their greed, they will exploit you with false words” (2 Peter 2:1-3)

1 Samuel 28

Not only does Scripture warn us about the deception of false teachers, but we are also given a clear direction that we should not seek advice from the dead. “One who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord” (Deuteronomy 18:11-12). In 1 Samuel 28, Saul went to a medium and asked her to contact Samuel from the dead and was judged by God for this practice.

There is a reason God has warned us to be diligent in being aware of the enemy’s lies and deception. There is a reason why Scripture prohibits the demonic activity of seeking connection with the dead. This new technological horizon has the potential to prey on the vulnerability of those who are sincerely grieving. I understand how, in grief, one may want to take advantage of the promises this software seems to offer. Still, I have to wonder, when God spoke through his servants and warned generation after generation of the coming deceptions, could servants like Moses, Paul, and Peter even imagine the depth of deception this modern-day technology makes possible?

AI Church Services

As this advancement in AI continues, I also wonder how deeply it will impact the Church and eventually prohibit the proclamation of the Gospel. The world has already experienced and embraced a forty-minute church service in Germany, which was written entirely with ChatGPT and delivered by a male and female avatar. Once the general population accepts this form of church service as a valid way to worship, it will not be difficult to mislead the sheep by twisting Scripture and pointing people away from Jesus instead of to Him.

Maranatha, Lord Jesus!

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Dr. David Bowen

Dr. David Bowen serves part-time at Lamb & Lion Ministries as the Teaching Evangelist. He pastors Standing Stones Community Church in Phoenix, Arizona.

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