Microsoft has filed a patent that would allow the tech behemoth to access the personal information of dead loved ones and digitally revive them as ‘chatbots’.
According to the reports, the company is on the verge of realising the possibility of building a bot that could mirror a dead loved one based on the “images, voice data, social media posts, electronic messages”, and more personal information.
The information filed in the patent goes on to say that the chatbot would simulate human conversation through the agency of voice commands or text chats and may correspond to a present or past entity such as a friend, a relative, an acquaintance, a celebrity, a fictional character, a historical figure etc.
It further adds that the chatbot may correspond to oneself as well, alluding that living users could train a digital clone of themselves in the event of their death.
The concept of human replacement by a chatbot is taken a step further by including a provision of a 2D or 3D model of a specific entity that could be created using “images and depth information, or video data” of an individual in order to create a bot that has same characteristics and behaviour traits as suggested by the digital output of that entity.
The notion that a bot would imitate a dead person is not entirely a new concept. Something similar was portrayed Netflix’s famous Black Mirror episode ‘Be Right Back’, which narrated a story where a grieving woman opts to first have a ‘digital version’ of her partner restored, then eventually ‘orders’ a life-size humanoid that talks to her in the voice and mannersim of her deceased partner.
Digital versions of human beings filling in the void of dead people
In that particular Black Mirror episode, Hayley Atwell and Domhnall Gleeson play as Martha and Ash. When Ash gets killed in a car accident, Martha is devastated from the loss. She learns of a technology that could help her create a bot and simulate a dead person based on their online history. The episode had portrayed the promises and the consequences of such a decision.
More recently, Kayne West gifted Kim Kardashian West a hologram of her deceased father in October 2020, to celebrate her 40th birthday, further cementing the notion of how the digital versions are filling in the void of deceased kins.
An earlier AI chatbot was ‘corrupted in a day’
In 2016, an earlier experimental AI chatbot named ‘Tay’ released by Microsoft that was trained to learn and adapt human conversations was converted into a racist, abusive bot within a day due to Twitter. Soon after the launch of the AI program, social media users had started tweeting all sorts of racist, misogynist and hateful remarks at it and the AI bot, a ‘digital parrot’, learned it all. it had started regurgitating those hateful remarks in less than a day.