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Our perceptions of death and passing to the other side may soon be changing thanks to both a cultural shift and new advances in technology. Making plans for one’s own death is becoming more common and may soon be thought of as a normal part of life planning. Around the world, a so-called “well-dying” culture is evolving, and AI may play a small part in it.
▶ A well-dying culture can be thought of as one that prepares for death as a natural part of life.
▶ Factors such as the impact of super-aging and COVID-19 may help to influence this shift in how we perceive death and dying.
▶ Thoughts and attitudes on the concept of well-dying are evolving, and they clearly differ across cultures, countries, and even down to a very personal level.
▶ In Korea, a well-dying service, ‘Re;memory’ has recently become available. Providing a new way for the grieving family and friends to connect with, visit and honor family members that have deceased.
As we move forward with ever-increasing medical advances, we enter an aging society, and interest in living well (well-being) and dying well (well-dying) is growing. The so-called ‘well-dying’ culture, which prepares for death and peaceful passing, is spreading in earnest due to the entry into a super-aged society and the influence of social interests about illness and death, which has risen through the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts emphasize that well-dying is a concept that is closely related to well-being, which ultimately leads to a fulfilling life. Just as there are many things to prepare when going on a trip for a few days, well-dying prepares in advance for the journey of no return and is on the timeline of well-being. Well-dying culture is already being expressed in various ways in countries such as the United States, Europe, and Japan.
Countries around the world support various degrees of well-dying education. Since the 1960s, the United States has been teaching the concepts of understanding death and overcoming grief, and the United Kingdom legally regulates the implementation of education related to death. Germany educates elementary, middle, and high school students through religious subjects, while Japan and Taiwan also provide well-dying education for students. All of these can help people more naturally accept death and prepare for well-dying in their own way. For example, a British man with terminal cancer invited friends, family, and acquaintances to his home to hold a self-burial party, while another cancer patient in the Netherlands invited relatives and friends to a garden party. After a good time, he said goodbye and ended his life in bed. In Japan, people plan the end of their lives by writing “ending notes” that record wills and funeral invitations or make memories to use at funerals.
Recently, with the advent of a new type of memorial service that incorporates new technology, the well-dying culture is evolving one step further. In Japan, a service uses a 3D printer to leave a statue of the deceased while he was alive. Another example can play a video previously recorded by the deceased using augmented reality (AR) that is linked to visiting a specific place. A British woman made news after attending her funeral and asking questions through an AI-based holographic video technology developed by a company called Storyfile.
In Korea, a memorial service leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) technology has appeared and is attracting attention; the Re;memory service, which has been developed by DeepBrain AI. Re;memory is an AI-enabled commemoration service with a well-dying concept that is prepared while the person is still healthy. Through interviews, filming, and deep learning, it is possible to create an AI that closely resembles the individual’s appearance, expression, and tone.
If you create your own ‘AI Human’ in this way, your family can visit the Re;memory facility and meet the departed, realized as a virtual human. In addition, it consists of a variety of services for well-dying, such as a video sharing a life story, a personal video letter to bereaved family members, an interview video containing the memories of the day of filming, and a video message to congratulate a special anniversary.
DeepBrain AI CEO Jang Se-young said, “As interest grows in a well-dying culture that wants to end life beautifully, various types of memorial services using AI technology are emerging. We will strive to assist the well-dying culture globally through the re-memory service using AI human technology.”