“The tool would cull ‘social data’ such as images, social media posts, messages, voice data and written letters from the selected loved one or individual. That data would be used to train a chatbot to “converse and interact in the personality of the specific person.”
Reports surfaced last week that Microsoft was granted a patent in December for a way to allow people to have conversations with loved ones after they’re deceased. The tech company filed a patent application in 2017 for a tool that could make it possible to have a virtual conversation via a chatbot with a “past or present entity … such as a friend, a relative, an acquaintance, a celebrity, a fictional character, a historical figure.” Further, the patent indicates that the chat would use imagery to “mold a personality alongside a 3D model of its real-life counterpart using letters and images.”
The tool would cull “social data” such as images, social media posts, messages, voice data and written letters from the selected loved one or individual. That data would be used to train a chatbot to “converse and interact in the personality of the specific person.” It could also rely on outside data sources, in case the user asked a question of the bot that couldn’t be answered based on the person’s social data.
“Conversing in the personality of a specific person may include determining and/or using conversational attributes of the specific person, such as style, diction, tone, voice, intent, sentence/dialogue length and complexity, topic and consistency,” as well as using behavioral attributes such as interests and opinions and demographic information such as age, gender and profession,” the patent states.
Scott Schaffer, Chief Information Security Officer for Blade Technologies, told FOX2 Now that someone who has a bigger digital footprint will be a better conversationalist, and that one researcher described the chatbots as being a “shadow” of a person.
Tim O’Brien, Microsoft’s general manager of AI programs, confirmed in a tweet on Friday that ” there’s no plan for this.” In a separate tweet, he also echoed the sentiment of other internet users commenting on the technology, saying, “yes, it’s disturbing.” While Microsoft doesn’t have plans to create a product from the technology, the patent does indicate that the possibilities for artificial intelligence have advanced from robots to creating virtual models of real people.
The patent application was filed in April 2017, which O’Brien said on Twitter predates the “AI ethics reviews we have today.” These days, the company has an Office of Responsible AI and an AI, Ethics, and Effects in Engineering and Research Committee, which help to oversee its inventions.
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