Microsoft Patents Tech to Create Chatbots That Could Imitate Dead People

Microsoft has filed patent for a technology that would allow it to create chatbots based on [...]

Microsoft has filed patent for a technology that would allow it to create chatbots based on people's personalities, interests, and relationships with others even if the person the chatbot is based off of is dead. The tech in question would use personal information gathered from everything from the individual's voice to their social media activity to create a profile of sorts that would essentially create a simulation of someone. The patent itself was filed back in 2017 and was recently made public in December 2020.

As spotted by The Independent, the tech detailed in the patent wouldn't specifically and only target dead people. Rather, the descriptions of the tech say that's one of the possible uses of it. Microsoft's wording of the tech said it "may correspond to a past or present entity," so someone who's around or someone who's not any longer, and listed everything from friends to relatives to random entities as examples of who could be subjects for this kind of experience.

"Examples of the present disclosure describe systems and methods of creating a conversational chat bot of a specific person," the abstract description of the chatbot tech read. "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."

That's about as abstract as those sorts of patent descriptions typically get, but it's essentially saying the tech could create a simulation of someone based on all the sources of information pertaining to them referenced above. It goes on to say that "a 2D or 3D model of a specific person may be generated" using additional information, so it seems like the tech would allow people to not only hear but see people who the chatbots are modeled after.

This being a patent doesn't guarantee that the tech described will come to fruition, especially not anytime soon, but we've already seen talks of holograms and other related projects in recent years. The eeriness of the idea has also not escaped people with similarities already being drawn between this and social commentary on the matter like the Black Mirror episode "Be Right Back."