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Bridging life and death: Chinese families turn to AI to reconnect with lost loved ones | World News

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In China, bereaved families are turning to artificial intelligence (AI) to create realistic avatars of their deceased relatives, a trend that has sparked considerable discussion on social media. According to Hangzhou Daily, these “ghost bots” services, costing between US$700 and US$1,400, have seen a surge in popularity. Zhang Zewei, the founder of Super Brain, an AI company, explained that their technology can generate basic avatars that replicate the deceased’s thought and speech patterns.
As per a South China Morning Post report, since its establishment in May 2023 in Jiangsu province, Super Brain has assisted thousands of families in digitally resurrecting their loved ones with just 30 seconds of audiovisual material. The majority of the clients are elderly parents mourning the loss of their children. Zhang highlighted the significant demand in China for such emotional support services, leading to the provision of customized counseling to meet each client’s unique needs.
Super Brain offers three types of services, including AI healing, which clones voices for a chatbox, provides a digital portrait for an intelligent speech function, and creates a 3D digital human model. Over 600 families have benefited from the AI healing service, with fees ranging from 5,000 to 10,000 yuan. Clients are required to provide photos, videos, and audio recordings of the deceased to enhance the cloning effect.
One of Zhang’s clients, a grieving father named Wu, found solace in a basic avatar of his son, who died of a stroke at 22 while studying in the UK. The avatar, capable of mimicking his son’s image and voice, offered comforting words in a robotic tone. Wu expressed his belief that “Death is not the end of love” and looked forward to reuniting in the metaverse.
This innovative approach to grief management has captivated netizens across mainland China, with many praising its therapeutic potential. However, opinions are divided, with some questioning whether it might hinder the natural grieving process by creating an illusion of the deceased’s presence.

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