When Marina Smith died in June at the age of 87, her grieving loved ones thought all they had of her were her memories – in fact, the Holocaust activist returned from the afterlife in the form of an artificial intelligence hologram to answer questions answer and reveal family secrets.
s Smith was one of the first to adopt a new technology, available in the UK from this week, that has enabled her to perform at her own funeral in Babworth, Nottinghamshire.
The “holographic conversational video experience” was made possible by an AI-powered video platform called StoryFile. The brainchild of her Los Angeles-based son, Stephen Smith, she was able to deliver a short speech about her life and spirituality and respond to questions from the ceremony attendees, creating the illusion of a real-time conversation.
StoryFile combines the latest studio technology – an array of 20 cameras synchronized to capture the subject in hologram-specific detail – advanced AI and expert psychological assessment to create a digital clone that allows humans to speak to the dead.
“Mum answered questions from grieving relatives after they watched her cremation,” Mr Smith said.
In January, Ms Smith spent several hours a day documenting and discussing her life on a PC with a plug-in webcam for two days.
Her son said: “What was most valuable to me as her son was the fact that my mother was willing to answer questions about her early childhood.
“This included difficult issues like her parents’ divorce and life as an immigrant from India. She was also willing to answer interesting questions about her perspectives on politics, the environment and the future, which was interesting because I had never had these conversations with her.”
He added: “People feel empowered when they record their data. Mourners could get a freer, truer version of their lost loved one.
“Relatives were blown away by my mother’s newfound honesty at her funeral. She had previously been too embarrassed to reveal her true childhood. A question about this at the funeral made her suddenly reveal her childhood in India, which we knew nothing about.
“Throughout her life, my mother worked very closely with the Jewish community, I could never understand why – we always knew she was a Methodist. Her digital version shocked the mourners: she told us she was actually a Seventh-day Adventist. Suddenly, her life made sense to me in a clear, new way.”
The digital question and answer version of a lost loved one can be purchased for around €47, including a choice of 75 questions, unlimited conversations and two-minute video answers.
A person chooses their favorite subject areas — like career, relationships, and childhood secrets — based on the areas they think their loved ones want answers on.
Mr. Smith, who previously ran Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation, has received praise for StoryFile technology and received an MBE in 2000.
Mrs Smith started her own charity to help those in need and later bought a run down farm in Laxton, Nottinghamshire which she and her husband turned into a Christian conference and retreat centre.
A family holiday in Israel in 1981 prompted them to take a new direction and the family home became the UK’s National Holocaust Centre.
It remains the only national museum in the UK dedicated to teaching and learning the lessons of the Holocaust, and Ms Smith was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honors List 2005 for services to Holocaust remembrance and education .
William Shatner, the 91-year-old star of star trekHe also recorded information about the television series on StoryFile, which only became known after his death.
Mr. Smith was inspired by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s public plea for support from tech companies in June. Since then, he has recorded StoryFile versions of 77 people in war-torn Ukraine.
Telegraph Media Group Limited 
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/britain/ai-technology-lets-dead-speak-from-beyond-the-grave-as-a-hologram-and-have-two-way-conversation-with-mourners-41911873.html AI technology lets the dead speak as a hologram from beyond the grave and converse with mourners in both directions