Hi-Phi Nation

The Digital Future of Grief

If you create an A.I. version of a dying loved one, do you ever really grieve?


Episode Notes

When Justin Harrison’s mom was diagnosed with cancer, he knew he wanted to keep talking to her after she died. So together they made an A.I. version of her, training it on her speech patterns and
memories. Now he is scaling his findings so that anyone can continue their relationships with loved ones after their deaths. Justin even believes this can one day lead to digital immortality. Grief experts are only now dealing with bereaved people who create digital versions of their loved ones. We look at what they say about the phenomenon, and what philosophers think about whether the best A.I. version of a person can actually be them.

Co-produced by Alexandra Salmon. Guests include Justin Harrison, CEO of You, Only Virtual; Dr. Mary-Frances O’Connor, and Dr. Debra Bassett.


About the Show

Hi-Phi Nation is philosophy in story form, integrating narrative journalism with big ideas. We look at stories from everyday life, law, science, popular culture, and strange corners of human experiences that raise thought-provoking questions about things like justice, knowledge, the self, morality, and existence. We then seek answers with the help of academics and philosophers. The show is produced and hosted by Barry Lam of Vassar College.

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  • Barry Lam is host and producer of Hi-Phi Nation and Professor of Philosophy at UC Riverside, and Visiting Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University.