One of the more unusual eventualities of artificial intelligence is that it may one day be used to resurrect the dead. Artificially, of course.
Over the last several years, various companies have announced their intentions to “raise the dead” with chatbots and other strange business endeavors, and now it looks like Microsoft is throwing their own hat into that very peculiar ring.
The company was recently granted a patent for AI chatbots that would emulate individuals, living or deceased, based on voice recordings, images, videos, emails, and even social media postings.
“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.”
Their tech could also recreate individuals with 3D models based on video footage and old photos. And, as the Independent puts it, if you’re interested in getting ahead of things, Microsoft’s patent also mentions the possibility of “living users” training chat bots to become “digital replacements” after their own demise.
Sound far out? Maybe. Companies file patents for all sorts of weird inventions that never see the light of day. Take Sony’s fluffy robot buddy, for example (maybe they’ll actually make that some day, I don’t know). And to be fair, Microsoft’s patent isn’t explicitly about digital reincarnation, but rather “creating a conversational chat bot of a specific person.”
However, as I mentioned above, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen a company looking to use AI to potentially simulate dead people. Coupled with social media, that opens a whole new can of worms. Is there a growing interest in using all that information people post and share online to create living profiles that would continue to exist long after their original owners moved on?
Imagine if your Twitter or Facebook accounts analyzed all your posts over the years and created an AI based on you, and then kept posting…forever. I’m sure that’s a Black Mirror or Twilight Zone episode or something.
The future is a strange place. You can check out Microsoft’s full patent application here.