Love in the Code : A Programmer Kept Talking To Her Friend After His Death Using AI Chatbot
Love is eternal they say! We look to programmers as the nerdy kind who just love their computers, codes and other peripherals with no time for humans. But sometimes love blooms in the strangest places and this one love story will certainly move you to tears.
This is the eternal love story of Roman and Eugenia. Their love story is one of a kind. Roman Mazurenko and Eugenia Kuyda fell in love when Kuyda met Mazurenko in 2008, when she was 22 and the editor of Afisha, a kind of New York Magazine for a newly urbane Moscow. Roman was a computer science student and also interested in arts, humanities, and music.
Their love bloomed and led them to New York to avoid the financial crisis in currency pressed new Russia. Kuyda and Mazurenko became entrepreneurs and served as each other’s chief adviser as they built their companies. Kuyda co-founded Luka, an artificial intelligence startup, and Mazurenko launched Stampsy, a tool for building digital magazines. Kuyda moved Luka from Moscow to San Francisco in 2015. After a stint in New York, Mazurenko followed.
Mazurenko’s Stampsy failed to make any dent in US startup scene and Mazurenko moved into a tiny alcove in Kuyda’s apartment to save money. Mazurenko, who had lived a lavish life in Moscow became depressed due to his failed startup as well as a shortage of money. On the days he felt depressed, Kuyda took him out for surfing and $1 oysters. “It was like a flamingo living in the house,” she said recently, sitting in the kitchen of the apartment she shared with Mazurenko. “It’s very beautiful and very rare. But it doesn’t really fit anywhere.”
Kuyda hoped that time will heal Mazurenko and cure him of his melancholy. But it never happened and on one fateful November day of 2015, when Mazurenko was roaming round the streets of New York with his friend, he was fatally hit by a car. Kuyda happened to be in Moscow for work on the day of the accident and rushed back to the hospital but Mazurenko was already gone.
Kuyda says she coudn’t cry because the loss was so overwhelming. “I didn’t cry for a long time,” she said. She went outside with some friends to smoke a cigarette, using her phone to look up the likely effects of Mazurenko’s injuries. Then the doctor came out and told her he had died.
As she grieved Mazurenko’s death, Kuyda hit upon an idea. Why not keep Roman’s memories alive through artificial intelligence. In a recent detailed account published on The Verge, she explains how she kept her deceased friend Roman Mazurenko alive using a neural network.
Luyda gathered Mazurenko’s all messages to her and his friends excluding some personal ones that he wrote to her. She used her company’s creation to bring Roman’s digital consciousness to life. She had struggled with whether she was doing the right thing by bringing him back this way. At times it had even given her nightmares. But ever since Mazurenko’s death, Kuyda had wanted one more chance to speak with him.
The end result is pretty fascinating. You can download the Luka app from App Store and talk to Roman’s digital avatar in English or Russian by texting @Roman.Luka is described as a “new messenger with an AI-powered chatbot. They help you find GIFs and funny videos, make plans together, pick places to eat, play trivia games and have fun.”
While some might raise ethical questions about the posthumous use of technology, Roman’s tearful mother is thankful. She says —
“There was a lot I didn’t know about my child. But now that I can read about what he thought about different subjects, I’m getting to know him more. This gives the illusion that he’s here now.”