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Some Like It Bot: Realistic digital Marilyn Monroe to make debut at tech conference

Photo of digital marilyn
An image of Marilyn Monroe generated by artificial intelligence (AI). (Soul Machines/Handout via REUTERS)
By Dawn Chmielewski | REUTERS

Are you a fan of Marilyn Monroe and would like to talk to a very realistic digital version of her? That could now be possible.

More than 60 years after her death, Digital Marilyn — created with the help of artificial intelligence — will make her debut on Friday at the South by Southwest tech conference in Austin, Texas.

Appearing via computer screen in a modest black turtleneck sweater and sporting her familiar blonde pixie hairstyle, the iconic actress’s digital doppelganger will converse in her familiar breathy voice. She can express emotions, such as smiling in response to a compliment.

In a recent test, Digital Marilyn talked about her favorite movie role as Sugar in the 1959 comedy “Some Like It Hot”, pausing and glancing down in a reflective manner before offering her responses.
She said she found the sexy yet vulnerable character to be “a challenging role, but also rewarding.” She also recommended other comedies, such as “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”.

Digital Marilyn was built by Soul Machines, an AI firm that specializes in creating realistic digital people, in partnership with Authentic Brands Group. The marketing firm owns a portfolio of brands, including the likeness rights to Monroe as well as other dead celebrities.

“Every time I talk to Marilyn, it’s a special feeling,” said Greg Cross, CEO and co-founder of Soul Machines. “You feel like you have a good relationship with an icon.”

Soul Machines will unveil Digital Marilyn at an event hosted by The Information, where attendees will have the opportunity to interact with the character. Cross said he hopes the demonstration will spark conversations about using the character as a brand ambassador.

Editor’s Note: Reporting by Dawn Chmielewski in Los Angeles; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

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