Microsoft Wants to Resurrect​ the Dead as Chatbots

Published on January 22, 2021

Microsoft is melting minds across the Internet today with their latest patent. The tech company is developing chatbots that will emulate dead people. People across Twitter are already making Black Mirror comparisons, although this news calls to name the works of Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) as well. 

Microsoft wants to connect people with lost loved ones or possibly even themselves or celebrities. The company would use personal information to create personalized chatbots. The chatbots are based on “images, voice data, social media posts, electronic messages,” as well as other personal information. The intent is to create conversations via text or even voice commands between people. 

People could even create bots based on themselves. If Microsoft follows through this bot concept, anyone could one day bicker with or insult bot versions of themselves. Welcome to 2021. “Examples of the present disclosure systems and methods of creating a conversational chat bot of a specific person,” the patent reads. “In aspects, social data (e.g., images, voice data, social media posts, electronic messages, written letters, etc.) about the specific person may be accessed. The social data may be used to create or modify a special index in the theme of the specific person’s personality. The special index may be used to train a chat bot to converse in the personality of the specific person.”

Microsoft wants to create a conversational experience, but the company may also want to even create a 2D or 3D model of the specific person. “During such conversations, one or more conversational data stores and/or APIs may be used to reply to user dialogue and/or questions for which the social data does not provide data,” the patent adds. “In some aspects, a 2D or 3D model of a specific may be generated using images, depth information, and/or video data with the specific person.”

It doesn’t stop there, either. Microsoft even wants their bot to potentially impersonate the voice of the specific person. “For example, client devices may access voice data (e.g., voice recordings, musical recordings, etc.) comprised in social data, a personality index or other data services,” the patent continues, “Speech recognition and/or speech synthesis techniques may be applied to the voice data of a specific person. The models and/or algorithms for implementing such techniques may be provided by client services, server devices, or a separate device/service. The voice font may then be applied to a chatbot to enable the chatbot to converse in the voice of a specific person.” 

In short, even in death, our data is available for the taking. Reviving the dead through today’s technology is nothing new, exactly. The late Roy Orbinson’s hologram, for example, has been touring for years. Kanye West had a hologram of Robert Kardashian made for his wife, Kim Kardashian, on her birthday. A year ago, on a Korean television show, Meeting You, a mother interacted with a digital version of her deceased daughter in a virtual world (via Mashable). Now, Microsoft is taking resurrection further into the digital age. Next up, welcome to Westworld.

Jack Giroux is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in Los Angeles, he is an entertainment journalist who's previously written for Thrillist, Slash Film, Film School Rejects, and The Film Stage.

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