Microsoft filed a patent that allows an AI-assisted chatbot to impersonate people based on their personal information, including the dead.

Microsoft has recently filed for a patent that allows an AI-assisted chatbot to impersonate people based on their personal information, including the deceased. The chatbot essentially will pick up on the person’s likes and interests based on information on social media such as ‘images, voice data, social media posts and electronic messages’.

If that wasn’t eerie enough, Microsoft has also hinted that the bot could later take on a 2D or 3D portrayal of the specific person.

However, the big tech giant doesn’t specify that this chatbot would be used solely for the purpose of communicating with the dead. Instead, the patent claims that:

‘The specific person 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.’.

Why It May Not Work Out

To start with, Microsoft has in the past not had the best luck with its AI chatbots. For instance, the Twitter bot, Tay, was introduced in 2016 to learn from human interaction on Twitter.

However, shortly after, Tay became a matter of controversy after the bot was found sending derogatory and offensive tweets from its Twitter account. This complication was followed by the immediate removal of the bot from the social media platform.

Apart from this, the General Manager of AI Programs at Microsoft, Tim O’Brien, seemed to be unaware of the company’s latest venture. He responded to various Twitter users’ concerns and implied that the company might not proceed to build this technology anytime soon.

There is also the possibility of various legal complications involved with the impersonation of a person without their legal permission to create profits.

It certainly seems likely that the developers of this bot have drawn inspiration from the futuristic TV show. But let’s not forget the underlying theme of the series was the potential terror and complexities that could arise in the future, especially regarding the interaction between humans and technology.

So, as fascinating as the possibility of interacting with someone post their demise may seem, perhaps this creation could do more harm than good. Nevertheless, with the fast-paced progress in technology, our futures are bound to play out similar to a science-fiction series.

Originally published at Ed times