“‘Hello. John James Vlahos, Esquire here. What’s your name?’
‘This is your eldest son Jamie,’ responds James Vlahos.
‘Ah, the Botmaster. How are you doing?’ replies Dadbot.”
It’s hard for anyone to deal with the loss of a loved one. James Vlahos’ father was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in 2016.
“It left us thinking, how do we make the most of the time we have with my dad and how do we capture and preserve his memory, keep him with us in any way that we can,” says James, in the video above.
His brother suggested an oral history project. So they recorded more than a dozen hour-long sessions with their father, as he talked about his youth, his interests, his family and his entire life story.
Soon, they had recorded 91,970 words, which translated to more than 200 pages of transcribed material. During this process, James, who is a journalist and amateur bot-developer, decided to do something interesting with the recordings and save his father’s memories.
Inspired by artificial intelligence, he made a “Dadbot” of his father’s recordings, compiling them into a chat-bot which responds in a manner similar to his father’s. The program uses the transcript of James’ father’s recordings, as well as simulations of his father’s characteristics, to stimulate a near-realistic conversation which you can watch in the video, above.
It may seem like an episode of popular TV series Black Mirror, but the “Dadbot” is certainly a unique, touching way to preserve the memories of a departed loved one.