The Ethical Permissibility of Chatting with the Dead: Towards a Normative Framework for ‘Deathbots’

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Title: The Ethical Permissibility of Chatting with the Dead: Towards a Normative Framework for ‘Deathbots’
Authors: Lindemann, Nora Freya
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Abstract: Recent developments in AI programming allow for new applications: individualized chatbots which mimic the speaking and writing behaviour of one specific living or dead person. “Deathbots”, chatbots of the dead, have already been implemented and are currently under development by some start-up companies. Thus, it is an urgent issue to consider the ethical implications of deathbots. Despite this, there is relatively little research on the ethical implications of chatbots generally and on deathbots in particular. All existing ethical theories about deathbots base their claim on considerations of the dignity of the deceased. I propose to shift the focus on the dignity and autonomy of bereaved users of deathbots. Drawing on recent insights from the psychology and phenomenology of grief, I argue that deathbots may have a negative impact on grief processes of bereaved users and therefore limit their emotional and psychological wellbeing. Moreover, I suggest that deathbots can limit the autonomy of their users. Hence, deathbots should not be unrestrictedly available. Because of their grief shaping capacities, they should be conceptualized as a medical device for the treatment of Prolonged Grief Disorder.
Citations: Publications of the Institute of Cognitive Science (PICS), Volume 2022, Number 1
Subject Keywords: Ethics of Artificial Intelligence; Culture of grief; Afterlife presence
Issue Date: 11-Feb-2022
License name: Attribution 3.0 Germany
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Type of publication: Buch [book]
Appears in Collections:PICS - Publications of the Institute of Cognitive Science

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