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Home / Technology / Microsoft patented a chatbot that lets you talk to dead people. It was too disturbing for the production

Microsoft patented a chatbot that lets you talk to dead people. It was too disturbing for the production



A patent granted to Microsoft (MSFT) last month describes a method of making a conversation chatbot modeled after a specific person – a “past or present entity … as a friend, relative, acquaintance, celebrity, fictional character, historical figure,” according to the submission to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The technology is reminiscent of a fictional app in the dystopian TV series “Black Mirror” that allowed a character to continue chatting with his girlfriend after he died in an accident, by retrieving information from his social media.

Want to talk music with David Bowie? Or get some words of wisdom from your deceased grandmother? This tool will theoretically make it possible. But do not get too excited, or freaked out for that matter: the company does not plan to make the technology an actual product.

Tim O’Brien, Microsoft’s general manager for AI programs, said in a tweet on Friday that he “confirmed that there is no plan for this.” In a separate tweet, he also thanked the mood of other Internet users who commented on the technology and said: “yes, it’s disturbing.”

This is how the technology works if it was actually built into a product. According to the patent information, the tool would remove “social data” such as photos, posts on social media, messages, voice data and written letters from the selected person. This data will be used to train a chatbot to “talk and interact in the personality of the specific person.” It can also rely on external data sources, in case the user asked a question about the fine that could not be answered based on the person’s social data.

“Conversations in the personality of a particular person may include determining and / or using conversational attributes of the specific person, such as style, diction, tone, voice, intention, sentence / dialogue length and complexity, subject and consistency,” as well as using behavioral attributes such as interests and opinions and demographic information such as age, gender and occupation, the patent states.

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In some cases, the tool can even be used to use voice and face recognition algorithms on recordings, photos and videos to create a voice and a 2D or 3D model of the person to enhance the chatbot.

While Microsoft has no plans to make a product from the technology, the patent indicates that the potential for artificial intelligence has gone beyond creating fake people to creating virtual models of real people.
The application for the Microsoft patent was filed in April 2017, as O’Brien said on Twitter prior to “AI ethical assessments we make today.” These days, the company has an office for responsible AI and an AI, ethics and effects in the engineering and research committee, which helps monitor inventions.




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