Dave Simpson: Speaking To The Dead? That's One Gadget I'll Never Need.

Columnist Dave Simpson writes: "This just in: Computer experts can now use Artificial Intelligence to reunite us with our deceased loved ones, compiling data and images to seemingly bring our loved ones back to life."

Dave Simpson

April 17, 20234 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

This just in: Computer experts can now use Artificial Intelligence to reunite us with our deceased loved ones, compiling data and images to seemingly bring our loved ones back to life.

For a mere $10,000.

You can put on a video helmet and see and hear your loved ones as if they had returned to life. It wasn't good enough to play simulated tennis in your living room – knocking over lamps and end tables with your killer backhand. Now visiting with loved ones in the afterlife can be like video gaming.

Is there no end to the crazy ideas out there? And have you noticed how many of them involve a computer?

I lost my dad, at age 83, in 1996. I lost my mother, at age 99 (six months shy of a Smucker's ad on “The Today Show”), in 2015.

They've been gone for quite a while now. But, I hear them talking to me just about every day, without computer assistance. My mother's concept of the afterlife was living on through her children, and now that I have grandchildren, I think about that a lot.

(She also believed that you make your own Heaven or Hell right here on earth, by the way you conduct yourself. That was enough to make even a teenager stop and think.)

They were both wise. My father used to say, “The empty wagon makes the most noise.” And to this day, when I hear someone going on and on about something they know little about, I think about empty wagons.

When I ate my ice cream cone too fast and got a head freeze, he would say, “That's God's way of telling you you're making a pig out of yourself.” Ouch. I've dutifully passed that on to my kids and grandkids.

My father was a civil engineer, held a couple patents, and had a lawn and garden that were the envy of the neighborhood. He could build just about anything down in his basement workshop, including two boats. He was a perfectionist, and more than once, when I was working on something and wasn't quite finished, he would look at me and say, “You've not going to leave it like that, are you?” 

To this day, when I'm working on a project, I feel him looking over my shoulder.

“You're not going to leave it like that, are you?”

“No, Dad.”

His mother lived to be 87, and she had a bridge group that met regularly. All six members were stout and decidedly matronly, with thick ankles and those heavy black shoes elderly ladies used to wear. When one of the group died, my mother said they were looking for a game five people could play.

“Basketball,” my father said over breakfast, and we laughed until we cried.

He drove used Buicks, because he couldn't see spending more on new, even though most of our neighbors drove new cars, and some left the price stickers in the window for a while. We weren't “keeping up with the Joneses,” my parents said, and that confused me, because there were no Joneses in our neighborhood.

My mother liked to say she “never had a job,” as if raising three boys wasn't a job. A home economics major (in college, she once baked a pie for Amelia Earhart), she had little patience for those who say they can't cook. “If you can read, you can cook,” she said. End of discussion.

She said “money is never wasted on education,” not surprising because her parents came to this country with very little, started a laundry business, and managed to put four kids through Purdue University. She was an inveterate reader, and passed that on, explaining that, “You're never bored when you've got a good book to read.”

“Don't wish your life away,” she told me when I couldn't wait for Christmas.

A sunny optimist, here's one of her favorites: “A sun shower never lasts an hour.”

And don't you dare be late for breakfast, because, “Eggs are no good cold.”

So, no thanks, I don't need Artificial Intelligence to bring my loved ones back to life.

I hear them talking to me every day. 

And I wouldn't have it any other way. 

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Dave Simpson

Political, Wyoming Life Columnist

Dave has written a weekly column about a wide variety of topics for 39 years, winning top columnist awards in Wyoming, Colorado, Illinois and Nebraska.