Microsoft have created a patent that allows the tech giant to create an AI-assisted chatbot using the personal information of deceased people.
The bot, based on the “images, voice data, social media posts, electronic messages” and more, would facilitate a simulated human conversation with users’ dead loved ones.
“The specific person [represented in the bot] 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”, a statement on the new patent says.
It adds: “The specific person may also correspond to oneself (e.g., the user creating/training the chat bot,” hinting that the technology could be used to communicate with another person once they have died.
In wake of the news, users on social media have been comparing the software’s eerie similarities to Black Mirror episode Be Right Back, in which a young woman uses a similar service to communicate with her deceased partner via a bot.
In the episode, the bot eventually becomes a robot, and Microsoft have also suggested that their new bots could potentially turn into 2D or 3D models of the user’s chosen person, as The Independent reports.
“We have now progressed from ‘this sounds like an episode of Black Mirror‘ to ‘that’s literally series 2, episode 1 of Black Mirror,” one user wrote on Twitter, with others joking that tech companies like Microsoft are using Charlie Brooker’s dystopian drama series as inspiration for their next inventions.
We have now progressed from ‘this sounds like an episode of Black Mirror’ to ‘that’s literally series 2, episode 1 of Black Mirror’ https://t.co/B3XxAgjglW
— Many A True Nerd (@ManyATrueNerd) January 22, 2021
Black Mirror: *makes episodes depicting technological dystopia*
Tech companies: hey… that’s a good idea… let’s do that https://t.co/8JgLR5BOes
— thsnks. (@SendPie2Senpai) January 21, 2021
“Quick reminder to all the tech people in the audience. Black Mirror (and dystopian fiction in general) is meant to be a warning rather than a roadmap,” another wrote. See a host of reactions to Microsoft’s new AI chatbot from social media below.
Quick reminder to all the tech people in the audience. Black Mirror (and dystopian fiction in general) is meant to be a warning rather than a roadmap. https://t.co/Aon4cfZVi7
— Andy Budd (@andybudd) January 22, 2021
As a Black Mirror fan, can I just suggest that we do not this please? It’s unbelievably sinister https://t.co/tns8Ooh95j
— Toffee Mc (@ToffeeMc1878) January 22, 2021
Who fucking watches a Black Mirror ep and thinks “oh hey, this looks like a good money-making idea with no potential drawbacks whatsoever”?
— ACAB For Cutie (@RamaTheVoice) January 22, 2021
Last month, Black Mirror creators Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones shared new Netflix documentary Death To 2020. Reviewing the show, NME wrote: “Future generations will find more truth in this show than they would in a year’s worth of rolling, 24-hour news or, indeed, a library full of crayoned textbooks.”