Recently a Korean reality TV show showed a mother meeting her dead six-year-old daughter using Virtual Reality. The mother who wore a VR headset along with haptic gloves was seen stroking her daughter and soon tears started rolling down her cheeks. This event cannot be considered as a technological milestone as the technology used was here for years. But the ability of the people to combine all these different technologies to provide an out of the world experience should be appreciated. This, in fact, opens the door for a new kind of business whose morality can be argued. On one side we have this intelligent culmination of various technologies and how this would help a grieving mother soothe her pain and on the other side, it’s morally wrong to milk someone’s emotions for personal gains. I truly don’t know how accurate the attributes were regarding the sound or the mannerisms but the scope of this exhibition is way higher. This can not only be used for grieving relatives but also can be used as a method to interact with people who are not nearby thus paving the way for the methods which were only seen in Science fiction.
The technology used in this exhibition can be broken down into many levels. Recently a startup exhibited their ability to duplicate anyone’s sound and accent with only a limited number of training data. That is one could replicate their son’s or daughter’s sound with the childhood video recordings which contain their sound. The touch and feel could be simulated by the haptic technologies which use special motors to simulate the sense of force. Thus the feeling of touching someone can be simulated. Obviously this has to be perfected to feel the correct curvature of one’s features but the research and development are moving fast and one can soon expect such a change. When it comes to the replies, Artificial Intelligence is definitely the solution. We have chatbots that can reply to our queries. Chatbots which are used to support emotionally lost people are perfect in these scenarios. This along with the change in facial expression can definitely be a game-changer whose moral implications need to be observed.
The exhibition has left the internet divided where some argue that such methods are important for people to recover from their poor emotional state. This can also be haven for people who have lost someone who was dear. Although they may know the fact that they are talking to an artificially created simulation, the feel of getting back to someone is preserved here. But another section on the internet argues that it is not right to commercialize such a simulation. They argue that such a simulation owned and operated by private companies are exploiting personal pains. Obviously there is some amount of validity in both the arguments, but we can be sure of the fact that we have perfected the technology to an extent that we can now touch and feel those who are not around us. It has made us fall in love with something that doesn’t exist and there lies the danger.