from EL PAÍS

Laurie Anderson is obsessed with resuscitating husband, Lou Reed, with AI

The avant-garde artist frequently converses with a chatbot designed to emulate the former Velvet Underground frontman


What is really curious, as well as disturbing, about the dystopian series Black Mirror is that technology is advancing at such a pace that it is increasingly difficult for any futuristic plot to surprise us. It has been a decade since the premiere of the first episode of its second season, Be Right Back, in which a woman uses artificial intelligence to replace her boyfriend after losing him in an accident. Ten years on, there are actually companies that offer a service known as ‘mourning technology’ or ‘digital necromancy’ which promises to keep the memories of their clients’ loved ones alive through AI.

There are AI applications such as HearAfter, which preserve the user’s memories via interviews on their life so that their loved ones can posthumously listen to their stories and chat with their virtual self. Even in more mainstream pop culture, we have seen cases like Kanye West’s 40th birthday gift to his then-wife Kim Kardashian of a hologram of her late father, the well-known lawyer, Robert Kardashian, in just one more example of how technology tries controversially to assuage grief.

But the musician, artist and thinker, Laurie Anderson, hasn’t needed to turn to Netflix, holograms or apps to do this for her partner, Lou Reed, who passed away in 2013. While many prefer to exercise this level of nostalgia in secret, Anderson has done so in public with I’ll Be Your Mirror, an exhibition, which shares its name with a song by The Velvet Underground, and which makes use of AI to invite reflection.

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