LUKA: New app lets you speak with the dead

We've all lost loved ones. Eventually, after grieving and accepting the truth, we move on. But don't you always have this moment when you wish you had one chance to connect with that person for one last time? Although it might not seem possible in the physical world, it is now possible to virtually communicate with the dead. Or, at least, an AI bot that embodies the same characteristics of your loved one.

Luka is an AI app that makes it possible to seemingly interact with the dead through virtual communication with AI chatbots. It is like any messaging app except that it makes it seem as if the deceased is actually texting you! According to the Verge, this technology relies on gathering actual text messages and social media traces that the deceased had in the past to create a neural network for the AI chatbot to assume a disturbingly real personality. 

Luka was co-founded by Eugenia Kuyda. She had this idea when she lost her closest friend, Roman Mazurenko, in a car crash. Since this incident, she always wanted to speak to him one more time. So, she gathered all the text messages he sent from everyone he knew. She spent two years creating Luka, which she thought would be a chatbot that would imitate her friend's speech patterns. 

On May 24th, 2016. Kuyda announced the release of her chatbot, @Roman, through a Facebook post, making it possible for users to communicate with him via the Luka app.  

Since its release, her family, and anonymous users have been communicating with Roman using the Luka app. Anonymous users have tried to chat with the Roman bot, and it responded back in a speech pattern that Roman used in his virtual interactions. It is also able to use location services to check in at places where he has been to before, as well as acknowledge the setting into the conversation.

Luka is currently available on the app store for free, but most chatbots are not based off real people. The only two chatbots that are based off real people, according to the Daily Mail, are Roman Mazurenko and Prince, a singer whose death took the world by storm in 2016.

Kuyda wrote in a Facebook post that memorial chatbots are still not complete, but she claims that there will be a lot of new possibilities in the future. 

"It's still a shadow of a person — but that wasn't possible just a year ago, and in the very close future we will be able to do a lot more."


Memorial chatbots will serve to make life easier for individuals who still haven’t moved on from losing a loved one. Although the use of this technology to heal is debatable, it will fulfill the most common wish of many: to have one last chance to communicate with their loved ones.

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