What if you could find a way to speak to yourself as a child, without creating an unsolvable time travel paradox, of course? Well, one person has done the next best thing, creating an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot of herself as a child by training it on her childhood diary entries.
Twitter user Michelle Huang told people in a widely-shared thread that she created the chatbot so that she "could engage in real-time dialogue" with her "inner child".
She created the bot using OpenAI language model Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3 (GPT-3) and plenty of source material, containing over 10 years of private diary entries.
Huang then engaged the chatbot in conversation, as well as setting it tasks such as writing its future self a letter. Fortunately, the project turned out a lot better than when a man attempted to resurrect a childhood imaginary friend using AI, and it promptly tried to murder him.
Huang said that she felt the idea had potential to be healing for people, as well as finding closure with past guilt.
"Conversing with 'younger michelle' reminded me of the parts of myself that have stayed constant through the years, but also of the parts that i forgot or buried as life went on," she wrote on Twitter. "It was like holding a mirror to an unapologetic, more earnest, and pure version of my own essence."
The conversations ranged from what the child Michelle thought would make the world a better place, to questions about whether they put too much pressure on themselves. In one particularly strange part of the conversations, Michelle allowed the chatbot to question her. The chatbot asked her what she had done with her life since writing the journal entries, before praising her for getting where she is today.
A part that stood out for Michelle was when she asked the bot to write a letter to her future self. In the letter the chatbot says she hopes that her older self has found her passion, and lets her know that she is proud of her.
Overall, Huang saw the experience as positive and "healing", encouraging others to do the same as well as providing instructions. If you don't have childhood journal entries (and are young enough to have been born in an age where your childhood digital conversations were recorded) you could enter archived chats instead.