Surreal as it may sound, talking to loved ones beyond the grave could become a reality.
A new artificial intelligence tool is being developed that will make it possible for people to “communicate” with their loved ones even after death. Microsoft will be the company that markets it, and for this reason, it has already filed a patent.
First reported by the technology news site, Protocol, this technology that looks like something out of an episode of Black Mirror will not only allow you to converse with a deceased family member but also with an acquaintance, a celebrity, or a historical figure.
The general concept involves a chatbot with the ability to capture the voice and information of a human being through the use of videos, voice recordings, letters, and posts on social media. It could potentially be used and interacted with via a smartphone or other device, such as Google Home .
It is currently unknown what Microsoft plans to do with the technology, or if it will launch any chatbot applications directly after the patent is issued.
Digitally Resurrected Dead Ones
The chatbot might even sound like the real person. “In some respects, a specific person voice source can be generated using recordings and sound data related to the specific person,” the patent states.
Additionally, “a 2D / 3D model of the specific person can be generated using images, depth information and / or video data associated with the specific person.”
Microsoft’s patent is not particularly fussy about who might be chosen to be the target of one of its chatbots, and states that the subject could be alive or dead. “The specific person may correspond to a past or present entity (or a version of it), such as a friend, a relative, an acquaintance, a celebrity, a fictional character, a historical figure, an entity, etc.”
“The specific person can also correspond to oneself (for example, the user who creates / trains the chatbot,” adds the patent, increasing the possibility that people will train a digital version of themselves before dying.
The patent emphasizes the degree to which this chatbot will be trained for the individual’s personal traits, in particular, the person’s’ conversational attributes’, ‘such as style, diction, tone, voice, intention, length and complexity of the sentence/dialogue, theme and coherence ”.
Bots With Awareness
If the chatbot doesn’t have enough data to provide an answer on a specific topic, data warehouses of conversations from collective sources can be used to fill in the gaps, which is almost literally putting words in people’s mouths.
The patent also addresses the complicated issue of managing the profiles of the dead, suggesting that the bot may even be aware (not to mention a better word) that it is mimicking a dead person. For example, if the bot was asked a question about an event that took place after his death in real life, “such questions may indicate that the specific person represented by the custom personality index (eg, deceased relative) possesses a perception of consciousness that he / she is, in fact, deceased.
The idea of reincarnating people as chatbots, obviously, raises all kinds of privacy implications that are not covered in the patent, which, by nature, is related to the technical operation of the system.
For example, will people be given the right to opt out of such a system? Could the relatives of the dead prevent others from converting their deceased loved ones to chatbots?
These questions are, of course, moot until Microsoft – or someone else – delivers a working prototype. But it may not be that way for much longer, so your personality may die with you.