Microsoft patents tech to let you talk to dead people as chatbots

Joanna Estrada
January 24, 2021

Microsoft's patent reminded numerous Black Mirror episode Be Right Back, in which a grieving wife tries an online service that allows her to interact with a chatbot that mimics her deceased husband.

According to the publication, the bot is based on real images of the deceased person, voice data, electronic messages written by him, posts on social networks and other types of personal information to create the digital version of those who are gone, allowing them to simulate a conversation with users of the tool.

The patent lists Dustin Abramson and Joseph Johnson, inventors. Look, we're sorry. We miss our grandma's cookies too, but unless this tech brings them back from the dead entirely so that they can bake up a fresh batch, then we want no part of this Black Mirror nonsense! Shocking as the idea may seem at first, many who have lost a loved one will understand the comfort that can come from watching old videos of the deceased or listening to their archived voicemail messages. Death creates a painful hole that we aspire to fill.

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Every episode isn't directly connected to the plot of the others, which is perhaps why the show has grabbed some top talent with stars like Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out), Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World), Letitia Wright (Black Panther), Topher Grace (That 70's Show), and many others lending their talents to this The Twilight Series styled show. At any rate, confirmed that there's no plan for this. Black Mirror was trending on the microblogging site.

The science fiction series Black Mirror previously explored the concept of resurrecting the dead through technology in the touching 2013 episode.

In 2013's "Be Right Back", the first episode of the second season, Hayley Atwell and Domhnall Gleeson play a young couple whose relationship is torn apart when Gleeson is killed in a auto crash. As with Microsoft's patent, the boyfriend's avatar was created using his online communications and social media profiles. After Ash dies in a auto accident, Martha discovers a technology that she can mimic a deceased person based on her online history. In doing so, she created an immortal digital Roman that could still "talk" to family and friends. But as my CNET colleague Alison DeNisco Rayome explains in this story, the question is, do we have to do this? As the Black Mirror episode highlights, there are no easy answers.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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