Funeral homes come up with 'digital human' to mourn the dead

Hu Min
China's funeral industry is using artificial intelligence to comfort loved ones with a "digital human" of the deceased.
Hu Min
Funeral homes come up with 'digital human' to mourn the dead
Ti Gong

A woman chats with a "digital human"

Artificial intelligence technology is being integrated into China's interment and funeral industries.

With digital technology gaining traction in a variety of fields, cemeteries made digital services available to families on Friday, the Winter Solstice, a time when Chinese people pay respects to their ancestors.

Fu Shou Yuan International Group, China's largest cemetery and funeral service provider, launched a "AI tribute" program on Friday. Families in Shanghai, Chongqing cities and the provinces of Jiangsu, Liaoning, Henan, and Jiangxi have been experiencing "digital life" technology in traditional funeral service.

Based on materials and stories of the deceased, a "digital person" is created. A personalized memorial service is then arranged.

Funeral homes come up with 'digital human' to mourn the dead
Ti Gong

The "digital human"

During the ceremony, a two- or three-minute scene from the deceased's life is screened. A "cloud" memorial hall is also established at the same time.

The entire service is free.

"AI technology can reproduce the voice, appearance, traits, and even thinking patterns of the deceased for the 'digital human,'" said group information chief Tang Yang.

"The 'digital human' will comfort those grieving and lessen their anguish," he said. "Protecting the image will extend the family's spiritual legacy."

Fu Shou Yuan released a digital facsimile of the late Chinese critic and TV personality Cao Jingxing (1947–2022) in June.

Reproducing Cao from his photograph, voice recordings, and materials provided by the family, it took nearly two months to create Cao's AI personality.

The digital replica of Cao chatted with guests.

"My grandma passed away five years ago. I miss her very much, as I grew up under her care," said Shanghai resident Wang Ming. "Seeing 'her' again will be comforting."

The group said the industry will use leading 3D production tools, physical simulation, facial expression simulation, motion combination, character control, collision detection and physical feedback, and dialogue training and analysis to provide better services to the public.

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