Eugenia Kuyda opened a console on her laptop and began to type. It had been three months since Roman Software developer abroad, Kuyda’s closest friend, had died. Kuyda had spent that time gathering up his old text messages, setting aside the ones that felt too personal, and feeding the rest into a neural network built by developers at her artificial intelligence startup. She had struggled with whether she was doing the right thing by bringing him back this way.
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At times it had even given her nightmares. A message blinked onto the screen. Kuyda promised herself that she would. Belarus in 1981, Roman Mazurenko was the only child of Sergei, an engineer, and Victoria, a landscape architect. 8 he wrote a letter to his descendents declaring his most cherished values: wisdom and justice. In family photos, Mazurenko roller-skates, sails a boat, and climbs trees.
Average in height, with a mop of chestnut hair, he is almost always smiling. As a teen he sought out adventure: he participated in political demonstrations against the ruling party and, at 16, started traveling abroad. He first traveled to New Mexico, where he spent a year on an exchange program, and then to Dublin, where he studied computer science and became fascinated with the latest Western European art, fashion, music, and design. By the time Mazurenko finished college and moved back to Moscow in 2007, Russia had become newly prosperous. The country tentatively embraced the wider world, fostering a new generation of cosmopolitan urbanites.