StoryFile CEO Brings AI Version of His Mother to Converse With Guests At Her Own Funeral
Marina Smith’s AI avatar was on-hand to interact with guests at her own funeral, thanks to her son Stephen Smith, the co-founder and CEO of virtual human startup StoryFile. The digital simulacrum conversed and answered questions about Marina Smith’s life, generating responses from a model built out of recording sessions with Smith before she passed away in June at 87.
StoryFile creates synthetic media for what it calls “conversational videos.”The company records video interviews with people sharing stories and facts about themselves, their lives, and their way of thinking. The AI models developed by the startup produce models to mimic how they speak and move so that it can simulate the look and sound of the person in the future, even in circumstances where the AI is pulling answers to questions that weren’t asked in the initial interviews. Storyfile has pitched its videos as a way to preserve memories of people and events for the future, as well as a way for businesses to create new interactive training and marketing videos. The synthetic video can even be viewed within a three-dimensional setting like a virtual reality headset.
William Shatner, Ed Asner and other celebrities have already signed up and produced AI versions of themselves with StoryFile. Synthetic media’s presence is growing quickly as the technology fueling it improves, so a funeral with the deceased present in a digital sense might become more common. Conversational AI is on the rise as well, with recent tests showing even experts can have trouble separating an author’s writings from an AI-generated attempt to mimic their prose. Combine that with the visuals and sound of StoryFile, and beloved family members or famous actors could soon surprise users with new content that feels authentic.