I’m Not Making You A Memorial Page Until You Stop Talking

Maybe Microsoft has good intentions with this. It’s possible. But if they do, I’m struggling to figure out what those could be. It seems to me like making chatbots that try to impersonate your dead friends and family based on everything they’ve ever communicated electronically could only make things worse. How are we ever supposed to get over loss if we’re never made to face reality and move on with our lives? And what if the representation isn’t very good? I imagine that feeling extremely insulting and hurtful to loved ones left behind, which just rubs salt into an already awful wound. I very much hope this never sees the light of day.

Microsoft has filed a patent for a technology that can “revive” people who are dead through a chatbot that emulates them.
Dated December 1st, 2020, the patent proposes an AI-based chatbot that compiles a profile of a person based on their past “images, voice data, social media posts, electronic messages.” The chatbot would then attempt to converse with the user just like how the person in question would have.
In theory, this could be used to let you “converse” with someone who has passed away. “The specific person [who the chat bot represents] may correspond to a past or present entity (or a version thereof), such as a friend, a relative, an acquaintance, a celebrity, a fictional character, a historical figure, a random entity etc” writes Microsoft in the patent.

But it doesn’t stop there; Microsoft also suggests a visual component to accompany text-based conversations. Specifically, the company mentions a 2D or 3D model that could be created using “images and depth information, or video data” of an individual.

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2 Comments

  1. All of these Microsoft people need to be sat down in a room and made to watch the Black Mirror episode called “Be Right Back.” Let’s see how much they like their idea after that.

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