AI and Society

We Could Create Digital Ghosts Using GPT/DeepFake, but Should We? Yes, Sometimes

I use memories of talks with my mother + ChatGPT to explore how AI could soothe the loss of a partner

Will J Murphy
11 min readMay 12


Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

I supported my bereaved mother from a distance in what turned out to be her last year. I lived abroad, but we had always been in regular contact by phone. Weekly calls became (at least) daily calls after my father’s passing.

It’s obvious to me now that my mother was developing dementia in this last year. We had never spoken so much and said so little.

She often talked about hurts, mistakes, and regrets from decades before as if they were happening in the present. Not just occasionally, but daily.

Inexplicably to me at the time, she was increasingly anxious about what couldn’t be changed and didn’t matter anyway. “If only, if only,“ she’d lament about what she said was her stupidity.

And then her mood would suddenly change, and we’d talk about mundane day-to-day trivia.

I thought I was simply offering companionship to my mother. I didn’t put the pieces together, so when memory lapses became ore obvious, it was too late to do more, and then she was gone.

If you suspect you’re in a similar situation, have a look at this page on the UK National Health Service website.

There wasn’t much I could say, except to reassure her that she had always made the best choices she could. She should give herself a break, so to speak, and all had worked out in the end.

I, of course, had no idea whether that was true, but my role was not truth-giver. All I could do was provide a listening ear and words of comfort and reassurance.

Not everyone will have even that, and it’s a big problem for those who lose partners after decades together. An abyss appears in their lives, which other people will just not have…



Will J Murphy

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