Talking to dead people only seems to be a possibility in the fantasy world. What if this surreal experience is brought to reality? The way we feel about losing loved ones is definitely going to change. For Justin Harrison, it means a lot to connect with the loved ones even after their death, in their every element, rather than having their digital representation as pictures and videos. This very idea made him develop a unique product Versona, a virtual personality, using a patented artificial intelligence technology. Analytics Insight has engaged in an exclusive interview with Justin Harrison, Founder, and CEO of YOV Inc, a posthumous communication platform.
Kindly brief us about the company, its specialization, / and the services that your company offers.
YOV Inc, or You, Only Virtual is a company that specializes in posthumous communications using artificial intelligence and machine learning to recreate personalities digitally. We map communications between two individuals or
groups of individuals and recreate their digital personalities, to enable infinite communications, even after one of them passes away.
With what mission and objectives, was the company set up? In short, tell us about your journey since the inception of the company?
The initial motivation behind setting up this company was my face-to-face innuendo with death at the age of 36. I realized for the first time just how finite life is. I almost died in a motorcycle accident, and a few weeks later my mom has diagnosed with stage four cancer. After her terminal diagnosis, I became entirely focused on how to preserve the connection with my mother, and the idea of a digital solution originated. At first, I wanted to film her sharing her life story, but that medium wasn’t able to truly capture the dynamic of our relationship. At the crux of the problem was the question: When a person and their personality are so much more than a collection of stories, how can digital replication of someone be authentic if it doesn’t have multi-dimensional personality traits? That boiled down to the realization that the relationship I have with my mother is completely unique — to her and to me. And that was the key to creating YOV.
The path that other companies take with AI and preserving life digitally is fairly universal —aggregate as much data as possible from multiple sources, and then use the best translation or output of that data to create a virtual version of someone. I found that I didn’t really care about the relational dynamics between my mom and other people, so it didn’t matter (to me) how she responded to others — it was really about how we interacted within the scope of our individual relationship. That was the first major evolution point for this company, after realizing that human beings are vastly different depending on who they are interacting with. In my opinion, the difference between YOV and other technologies is that the mission of other companies seems to be building this holistic universal person, but that’s just not how humans are. The versions of ourselves that we see today are truly an accumulation of hundreds and thousands of relationships over the course of our lives, and each one of those shapes us slightly differently, how we show up depends on which of those relationships we’re tapping into. Understanding the dynamic nature of a human being’s personality, was the biggest part of the journey and the key component that makes YOV so unique.
Please brief us about the products/services/solutions you provide to your customers and how they get value out of it
We offer one unique product, the Versona (or virtual personality). Everything associated with YOV is either low or no cost, the primary one available at a $9.99/month subscription to build a virtual personality. I don’t know what better value in the world there is than to be able to continue communications and relationships with the people who have passed on but still matter the most to you, and YOV strives to preserve the sanctity of those relationships by keeping any costs as non-existent as possible. A person can have dozens of Versonas, as it’s built individually off of one relationship with a person or a specific group. The Versona is built out of communications from messages, voice notes, videos, apps, and photos, and users can opt-in for a premium purchase called Accelerator to speed up the process. By employing Accelerator, users can export data from apps like Facebook, WhatsApp, etc. to rapidly enhance the process of YOV’s AI understanding of how to replicate the specific personality of communication.
The industry is seeing a rising importance of business and technology enablers like virtualization, convergence, and cloud. How do you see these emerging technologies impacting your business sector?
YOV is cloud-based (like most people in tech at this point), especially when it comes to all things data related, so that’s the entirety of our business sector right there! The biggest component of our company is data, getting the right data for the right adaptive algorithm. With this data, we’re creating virtual personalities, which is better known as virtualization. Multiple different technologies converge in our primary platform, which is the Versona, to produce one steady stream of AI that’s proprietary to our company.
How do you see the company and the industry in the future ahead?
I think that we’re pioneering a completely new category when it comes to AI. Phrases such as “the industry” are very vague, and YOV is only one facet of larger industry in terms of types of technology. When it comes to labeling categories within the tech space, like communication, artificial intelligence, SaaS, the point where all those things converge essentially equates to a brand-new industry. And I think that that’s the direction we’re going when it comes to creating a category for posthumous communications and digital legacies: we won’t be the only players there, but other companies will buy into what is a brand-new market. With all of that said, I wouldn’t go calling us a unique industry just yet; but with all of the converging that’s currently taking place, a new industry is certain to emerge.
How does your company’s rich expertise help uncover patterns with powerful analytics and machine learning?
One of the greatest things about our company is that we have a lot of brilliant minds. Our lead data scientist and engineer have over two decades of experience in genetic sequencing using AI. We employ engineers that have extensive backgrounds in cloud-based systems and how data is quantified, uploaded, categorized, and organized. We’re literally inventing how to map out emotional dynamics. There is existing technology using AI and machine learning to map out emotions, but when you add in the complexities of dynamics and relationships like YOV is doing, we take it to another level.