Have you ever read an article about a physical product or technology that made you tell yourself “hey, that’s a good idea and I wish I had thought of it!” This may or may not be one of those ideas. Microsoft filed a patent this year that would allow the company to digitally revive deceased loved ones as chatbots, using their data. This won’t just be a basic chatbot like what you see on social media, in fact the AI-based chatbot that would be built upon the whole profile of a person, including their images, voice data, social media posts, electronic message style and habits, to name a few. Through this data, the chatbot would then be able to simulate the person to the point that it could hold a conversation certainly through chat and potentially respond to voice commands as well.
Microsoft could have stopped there, but when has any tech company stopped at “good enough”? The next step for this technology would be generating a 2D or 3D model of a specific person using data collected from visual and audio media. Again, this is all through the lens of creating artificial communication with someone who is no longer alive. But can you imagine getting catfished by a chatbot that is able to mimic human behavior so well that it is unlikely that you will be able to detect that it is in fact AI and not a person? It will be interesting to see where this new technology goes and the potential good it could do for people struggling to get closure from deceased loved (or hated) ones. The positive here is that this technology is being used for something good.