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Black Mirror Style AI Could Create Chatbots That Mimic The Dead

Black Mirror Style AI Could Create Chatbots That Mimic The Dead

Microsoft has applied for patents that could allow them to develop a groundbreaking artificial intelligence that would allow people to 'speak' to their dead relatives.

If that sounds eerily familiar to you, that's because you're thinking about the episode of Black Mirror called 'Be Right Back' in which pretty much this exact thing happens.

Basically, the idea of the technology - as detailed in Charlie Brooker's scarily accurate dystopian anthology series - is that the AI would take the digital relics left behind by a person, dead or alive, and train a chatbot to mimic their manner of speech using that data.

The patent issued is for a tool that uses 'images, voice data, social media posts, electronic messages, written letters' to do exactly that.

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As per reports in Protocol, the documents have been submitted to the US Patent and Trademark Office and talk of creating a '2D or 3D model of a specific person' using pictures and video of them.

Credit: Netflix
Credit: Netflix

In that Black Mirror episode discussed earlier, a bereaved widow is sent an AI clone of her dead husband that she can interact with. The personality of that clone is entirely based on the social media output of the dead person.

So, that's nice, isn't it? We all wake up every morning wishing that the world could become more like an episode of Black Mirror, don't we?

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Can't wait to see what the Prime Minister is going to be blackmailed into doing...

But, we digress, back to the chatbot.

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This isn't specifically about replicating the dead, merely creating a chatbot that that could 'converse and interact in the personality of a specific person'.

However, it does mention that it might 'correspond to a past or present entity [such as] a friend, a relative, an acquaintance, a celebrity, a fictional character [or] a historical figure.'

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Credit: PA
Credit: PA
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That could be anything from a smart assistant that sounds like Tupac Shakur, or a historical computer program pretending to be Barbara Windsor, or your dead grandfather rambling on at you from beyond the grave.

Either way, it's fascinating.

This bot would also be able to call on 'one or more conversational data stores' if asked a question that it doesn't understand, and possess a 'voice font' based on recordings scraped from devices such as smart home assistants.

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All of this is nice - and vaguely existentially terrifying - but there is no mention in the patent that the product will ever come to market.

However, it can't be far away. There are already companies such as HereAfter AI that are seeking to do something similar.

At this rate they'll have no material left for future series of Black Mirror.

Featured Image Credit: Netflix

Topics: TV and Film, Interesting, Microsoft, Technology, Netflix, Weird

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Tom Wood

Tom Wood is a LADbible journalist and Twin Peaks enthusiast. Despite having a career in football cut short by a chronic lack of talent, he managed to obtain degrees from both the University of London and Salford. According to his French teacher, at the weekends he mostly likes to play football and go to the park with his brother. Contact Tom on [email protected]