Microsoft Wants To Resurrect Your Dead Friends And Relatives As Chatbots

Microsoft is working on a project that honestly sounds like the beginning of a dystopian Black Mirror episode. They now have a patent to create chatbot of a dead person based on their personal information. It can be a friend, relative, celebrity, fictional character, or a historic figure. It seems that we will no longer be guaranteed peace in whatever awaits us after death or have any semblance of consent or privacy.

The patent is not limited to text.

Microsoft’s patent includes the possibility of images or the voice of the person. The patent states, “In some aspects, a voice font of the specific person may be generated using recordings and sound data related to the specific person. In some aspects, a 2D or 3D model of the specific person may be generated using images, depth information, and/or video data associated with the specific person.”

You could create a younger version of yourself to talk to.

The patent is not limited to dead people. A person could create a chatbot of themselves, or themselves at an earlier age. The patent explains, “The specific person may also correspond to oneself _e.g., oneself at a particular age or stage of life).” To do this, your data would be indexed and only the portions that correspond to an age range, or a specified personality trait, would be used to create the simulated person.

Despite how they may market the future device, it will not be a true representation of the person.

The simulation of the person will be limited by how much data Microsoft can collect about them and their ability to interpret that information correctly. The patent says in several spots that they will use generic responses and regional information to create the chatbot. To learn more, the chatbot might even ask questions about themselves and incorporate that information into their personality. This has the potential to dramatically distort the representation of the person simulated.

It is too soon to know how this technology will be used.

But one thing is for sure, digital hygiene will become more important than ever. Either you can do your part to limit the personal data online that one of these chatbots have to potentially resurrect you later. Or, you can embrace the new technology and train and shape your chatbot to emulate the version of you that you want to present for eternity. Either way, it raises very important ethical questions that we need to address before this technology is widely available.

h/t: United States Patent and Trademark Office

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