How this episode of Black Mirror became a reality

A Russian woman brought back to life one of her closest friend with artificial intelligence… Black Mirror style.


In “Be Right Back,” an episode of the British futurist drama “Black Mirror,” a woman named Martha loses her fiancée, Ash, in a car accident. The young couple had each been active social media users, and, in the world of the episode, that digital footprint enables Martha to recreate her dead loved one. After starting small, holding text conversations with the artificial-intelligence version of Ash, she moves on to phone calls and, soon, a life-sized android.

A Russian woman named Eugenia Kuyda has debuted a similar project ― without the androids ― detailed in a bittersweet feature published by The Verge.

Kuyda’s close friend Roman Mazurenko was killed in a Moscow hit-and-run car accident in November 2015. After his sudden death, Kuyda took advantage of resources she’d been using to build a messaging app to see if she could recreate her friend’s voice in text. With over 8,000 lines of text messages from Mazurenko donated from friends and family, Kuyda debuted a digital version of her friend through her existing app, Luka, in May. Users could chat with Mazurenko, who was deeply involved in the tech sphere himself, by tagging @Roman.