Microsoft Could Bring You Back From The Dead… As A Chat Bot

Microsoft has filed a patent which raises the intriguing possibility of digitally reincarnating people as a chat bot.

Instead of using the conventional method of training chatbots using conversations and material from a wide sample of users, The system would use “social data” such as “images, voice data, social media posts, electronic messages [and] written letters” to build a profile of a person.

“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.”

According to the patent’s description

“The social data may be used to create or modify a special index in the theme of the specific person’s personality,” the patent states. “The special index may be used to train a chatbot to converse and interact in the personality of a specific person.”

The chat bot could even sound like the real person. “In some aspects, a voice font of the specific person may be generated using recordings and sound data related to the specific person,” the patent claims.

“A 2D/3D model of the specific person may be generated using images, depth information, and/or video data associated with the specific person”.

Microsoft’s patent isn’t particularly fussy about who might be chosen to be the subject of one of its chatbots, stating that the subject could be dead or alive. “The specific person [who the chatbot 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.”

“The specific person may also correspond to oneself (e.g., the user creating/training the chatbot,” the patent adds, raising the possibility of people training up a digital version of themselves before they die.

According to the recently filed patent in the USPTO, Microsoft calls this venture “Creating a Conversational Chat Bot of a Specific Person,” which does not entirely refer to resurrecting the dead. However, while the technology is applicable for almost anything and anyone, its best application is for the dearly departed who specifically cannot use smartphones. 

The patent would focus mostly on virtual communications and instant messages or chats, not the technologically-advanced version of having a physical resurrection like “Black Mirror’s.” The company has filed the Chatbot technology since April 2017 and has only been approved and patented by the agency last December 1, 2020.

(Photo : Microsoft via US Patent and Trademark Office)

The process would only be a four-step process, as illustrated in Microsoft’s patent filing that would begin with approval of the request for the specific person’s demographics and communication pattern. It would access the particular person’s social data and create a “personality index” that would train the Chatbot to act as the replicated person.

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