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AI and the Afterlife: From Digital Mourning to Mind Uploading

AI and the Afterlife: From Digital Mourning to Mind Uploading

As part of Theos’ research on death, Nathan Mladin looks at how the emergence of AI is shaping our relationship with death and those who have died. 15/02/2024

AI is one of the most significant forces shaping the world today. It is poised to transform not only our institutions and capabilities, but our relationships too, including our relationships with deceased loved ones and how we grieve them.

This report explores the intersection of technology with death and grief, an area known as “virtual immortality”. Part one looks at digital legacy and memorialisation, ‘griefbots’ and digital personas. After discussing their representation in popular culture and the market and noting some concerns, the argument put forward is this: while AI–powered digital technology may, under certain conditions, help with remembering loved ones and journeying through grief, the danger lies with hyper–realistic and interactive simulations of the deceased. These risk deceiving vulnerable users and inflicting emotional harm.

Part two explores the notion of ‘mind uploading’ as an example and critique of transhumanism. We show that mind uploading rests on a series of questionable assumptions about the mind, identity, and the body, and is incoherent on both scientific and philosophical grounds. The report ends with a comparison of transhumanist and Christian beliefs about death, the body, and the afterlife, showing that transhumanism is an area of late modern culture where the shadow of Christianity lingers hauntingly, and where Christian beliefs about death, resurrection, and the afterlife are reflected and refracted through a technological prism in fascinating ways.

Read the full report here.


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Nathan Mladin

Nathan Mladin

Nathan joined Theos in 2016. He holds a PhD in Systematic Theology from Queen’s University Belfast and is the author of several publications, including the Theos reports Data and Dignity: Why Privacy Matters in the Digital Age, Religious London: Faith in a Global City (with Paul Bickley), and ‘Forgive Us Our Debts’: lending and borrowing as if relationships matter (with Barbara Ridpath).

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Afterlife, Artificial Intelligence, Death, Technology


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