Immortalizing Loved Ones; App to Keep Personal History Alive after Death

Max Rodriguez

The author Andrew Kaplan’s life will be an open book for future generations, his loved ones will be able to speak with him and even get advice after death.

A technology company may soon immortalize our loved ones through new software within an app, and Kaplan who now lives in Rancho Mirage is part of the project that created his virtual self they call “Andybot”.

Kaplan said, “Someone could have a conversation with this sort of chat-bot, which we came to call Andybot.”

When the tech start-up “Hereafter” approached him with the idea to share his personal history and create an interactive application where his future family members could speak to him, he thought about his father and how the desire to talk to him never dies.

“Sometimes we go through tough times and it’s in those times you want to talk to your parent, your mother, your father, your grandfather,” Kaplan said. “Somebody close to you that maybe if you heard their voice, at least if you heard maybe what they went through might help you get through that time.”

Andybot currently lives through the Amazon Alexa platform. The co-creator of Hereafter, James Vlahos said he sees how people can become curious about this technology. To be able to speak with a person even after they have passed could sound like a premise of SciFi movie or an episode of “Black Mirror”.

However, Vlahos said they are not trying to recreate the person’s mind, it’s simply high-tech story-telling.

“Where we differ from is that we’re not actually trying to recreate the dead person to reanimate them through technology,” Vlahos said. “It really is a high-tech interactive sharing of oral history.”

Andybot can share Kaplan’s experiences in the United States and the Isreali Army, people could also learn about his childhood in New York or about his life’s work that led him to become a best-selling author.

After listening to a few vignettes of his life, his wife Anne Kaplan is still getting used to Andybot.

“It is weird,” Anne Kaplan said. 

As it turns out, sharing details that will live on through generations does not appeal to everyone.

Anne Kaplan said, “There are a lot of happy moments but I am not sure, but in terms of adding to Andy’s story, I’m interested in helping him do that.”

Kaplan understands, Andybot is not actually him but he sees it as an extension of himself. Given the opportunity to hear his father’s voice or even exchange a conversation, Kaplan would take it.

Kaplan said, “I’ll tell him a little bit of what’s happened and asked him if he was pleased.”

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