MyHeritage cooks up creepy LiveStory AI tool that makes your dead ancestors speak

Modern genealogy – once a pursuit that required long hours digging through musty old archives or squinting at microfilm – has evolved in some remarkable ways. Advances in DNA analysis boosted Ancestry.com and 23andMe to billion-dollar businesses and changed the way we view our families, personal health, and genetics in general. It was only a matter of time before AI got involved (this is 2022, after all), and now genealogy platform MyHeritage has found a way to use the technology to bring us some straight-up unnerving videos of our reanimated dead relatives.

The system’s called LiveStory, and starts by asking for an upload of an ancestor’s photo, before using deep learning tech the company licensed from D-ID to fashion a full-blown mini-documentary including audio and high-resolution video. Faces are animated and synced up with the images to – ideally – tell part of your family’s story.

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MyHeritage admits in its FAQ for LiveStory that some may find the feature “creepy and dislike it,” but claims others think it’s downright magical. Creating one seems fairly straightforward: upload your ancestor’s photo and then simply follow directions on the screen, writing the story you’d like to tell and adding additional images as appropriate. If you already have a MyHeritage account and have used it to construct your own family tree, the service should be able to create your LiveStory with just a handful of clicks.

LiveStory is an evolution of DeepNostalgia, an AI-based family photo animation tool that MyHeritage introduced a year ago to a similar mix of awed and decidedly haunted reactions. Perhaps from its experience there, the platform’s now aware of the potential for abuse and asks those using LiveStory to “use this feature on your own historical photos and not on photos featuring living people without their permission.” LiveStory requires a user account and if you have a full subscription to MyHeritage ($ 299 a year) there are no limits on how many LiveStories you can make. Videos you make are yours to keep.

As of March 4, there are just 241 shopping days until Halloween. If you really want to creep out the entire family, sign up and start churning out your own LiveStories today.


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