Making AI personal with ‘The Dadbot’


Image: Computer generated fragmented blue head
Credit: Pobytov/GETTY IMAGES, BBC Website

AI captures a dying father’s memory

From BBC site: Californian James Vlahos had a great relationship with his father, so when he was told his dad was dying he had to do something to preserve his memory. He got hold of specialist software, and started typing up some of the things his dad had said to him and made what he calls a ‘Dadbot’.

You can listen to this fascinating 20 minute program on BBC iPlayer – the program starts at about 9 mins.


This is a touching and fascinating program that explores a new area of AI that could have many interesting applications. Whilst AI has been shown to help predict dementia before the onset of symptoms, the Dadbot may offer a useful tool in helping people engage with dementia sufferers, or perhaps to capture knowledge from aging relatives or employees and make this available to a much wider audience.

Today, much of the AI discussion focuses on corporate <-> consumer use cases (such as powering recommendations and Alexa answers), where AI is improving the customer (consumer) experience, or augmenting human capabilities with user+AI use (such as helping increase the accuracy of medical or airport scanning) but we have seen more limited development outside of commercial use.

As these interfaces are opened up, research is published and AI is made accessible to a wider audience we will see the potential for new human+AI<-> human uses. I use the word human, rather than user because these connections are emotional rather than functional. This offers potential for AI to be used to help empower those with disabilities, using AI to help improve their interaction with other people. Human-centric AI uses with no clear revenue stream are never going to attract the funding levels of those that can show the potential for massive profits, but each small project moves us forward.



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