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Autobiographer app uses AI to help you tell your life story

Can AI help you tell your own story? That’s the idea behind Autobiographer, a startup that uses AI technology to engage users in meaningful conversations about events and feelings in their lives, which it then translates into prose, effectively creating your own autobiography.

The startup is entering a field that has always been controversial—many people object to AI replacing art, writing, and other creative activities. But in the case of Autobiographer, the AI ​​guides users to tell their own stories in their own words, and then organizes it into output that can be exported to PDF and, perhaps one day, bound and printed. In other words, it is more of a collaborator than a sole creator.

The app may not replace a professionally handwritten story, but it can be a way to record family history, friendships, or create a keepsake for your children.

Matt Bowman, co-founder and CEO of Autobiographer, had thought of using the app to leave a story for his godchildren. Before working at Facebook in the Bay Area, Bowman served in the Army Special Forces and was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. As a result, he experienced some losses that shaped his worldview.

“I have so many great stories about my friends in the military – so many funny things, so many unique and amazing things – and a lot of them we heard at my best friend’s funeral. Now it’s my job to figure out how to synthesize those stories and pass them on to my godchildren,” said Bowman, who hopes they will learn more about their dad, his military life and who he was as a person.

“Now technology has advanced to the point where we can do this,” Bowman explains. “We can tell these stories, tell them verbally, and turn them into beautiful keepsakes that we can give to the people around us.”

Bowman worked with James Barnes, who also worked at Facebook during the 2016 and 2018 elections and was one of the first to notice issues with the Cambridge Analytica data collection scandal, an event that led to his involvement in several subsequent testimony and subpoenas. He later left Facebook to start a super PAC to fight Trump. As he fiddled with OpenAI’s GPT-3, he found that the AI ​​could help him process things he had experienced in his life, including these milestones.

“AI has an incredible ability to reflect on myself, my story, and what I’ve been through,” Barnes said.

While Barnes and Bowman didn’t have similar careers at Facebook, they met in San Francisco last year when Barnes was looking for someone with military expertise to help the team (which also includes co-founders Luke Schoenfelder and Ivan Almaral) experiment with the idea of ​​using AI to tell stories. The two bonded over shared goals and other experiences, including an interest in psychedelics.

“Exploring consciousness is a key connection point for us,” Barnes explains. “As we work on these really tangible things, we’re also able to think about whether our platform can enable people to be introspective and do more abstract, personal work,” he says.

To use the app, you engage in a conversation with an AI agent based on Anthropic technology, which prompts you to tell a story. For example, the initial prompt might ask you to tell a story about an adventure you’ve had, reminding you that there are no right or wrong answers. If you wish, you can start speaking, pause and resume recording, or move on to another question.

The memories are stored in a vault, a biometrically protected encrypted space that not even the Autobiography staff can access.

“One of the most important values ​​when James, Luke, Ivan and I came together was obvious consensus that no one would tell their precious memories or very sensitive emotional stories to something that was in an ad — or something that a bunch of engineers could see on the back end,” Bowman said.

The app lets you revisit topics, explore memories, and then eventually turn them into different types of prose — like a short story or a thank-you letter to a loved one. Currently, these are exported as PDFs, but the team hopes to offer printed books in the future.

The Autobiography Writer’s fee is $199 per year—certainly cheaper than a ghostwriter, but expensive enough to encourage only serious use.

The company is also currently working with journalist Katie Couric, who will serve as a publicity partner for the startup. However, her role has yet to be determined.

The company behind Autobiographer was founded three and a half years ago but has gone through several transformations. The latest version of the app was released today, but it started a year ago.

Autobiographer has received $4 million in seed funding from multiple companies.

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