Lou Reed’s Widow Resurrected Him as an AI, "Sadly Addicted" to Talking to It

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Screen Reed-er

Since before ChatGPT was even a thing, Laurie Anderson, the widow and longtime collaborator of the late Lou Reed, has been talking to an AI chatbot modeled after her late partner — and now, she's hooked.

In a new interview with The Guardian, the 76-year-old experimental artist who just won a "Lifetime Achievement" award at this year's Grammys acknowledged the outrageousness of her regular conversations with an AI built to mimic her superstar husband that died a decade ago.

"I mean, I really do not think I’m talking to my dead husband and writing songs with him — I really don’t," she said. "But people have styles, and they can be replicated."

First revealed in a New York Times profile about the artist in 2021, the Reed-mimicking chatbot is one of three Anderson created with the University of Adelaide’s Australian Institute for Machine Learning. The other two, as she told the newspaper, were made to mimic her own writing and a mix of the husband-and-wife duo's.

Now, a few years into the endeavor, Anderson says she's "totally 100 percent, sadly addicted" to the chatbot.

"I still am," she said, "after all this time."

Adjusted for AI

Back in 2021, Anderson said that a third of what the chatbot spat out was total nonsense, akin to "monkeys with typewriters," and another third was just boring. In her newer interview, the artist seems to have adjusted her percentages.

"Three-quarters of it is just completely idiotic and stupid. And then maybe 15 percent is like, 'Oh?' And then the rest is pretty interesting," she told The Guardian. "And that’s a pretty good ratio for writing, I think."

Over her years with the Reed-bot, Anderson has found herself continually drawn to the algorithm that replicates, to varying degrees of success, her late partner — and her friends' attitudes towards her strange, er, addiction have changed as AI has become a more well-known thing.

"I kind of literally just can’t stop doing it, and my friends just can’t stand it — 'You’re not doing that again are you?'" she recounted, reportedly with a laugh.

Anderson's pioneering experiments in AI are the subject of a show in Adelaide titled "I'll Be Your Mirror" after The Velvet Underground and Nico's famous song. Though she won't physically be present herself, she'll be phoning in from New York to give talks about the work, which includes the 9,000-word rendition of the Bible her bespoke chatbot spat out in Anderson's voice early during her time working with it.

When asked how she feels about AI potentially putting out art in her style after her own passing, Anderson was unsurprisingly flippant.

"Oh, why not? I mean, that doesn’t bother me," she said. "I don’t feel that attached to time anyway, you know?"

More on AI weirdness: Trump's Dad Resurrected Via AI to Tell Son He's a Disgrace