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AI-Enabled Chatbots To Mimic Real People

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Artificial Intelligence Chatbots To Miimic Real People

AI-Enabled Chatbots To Mimic Real People

AI-Enabled Chatbots To Mimic Real People

Sometimes sci-fi gets it right. From an iPad precursor in 1968’s 2001: A Space Odyssey to driverless cars in 1990’s Total Recall, things we once thought were only possible in our dreams are frequently becoming an everyday reality. The most recent example of science fiction becoming real comes from Microsoft, and was predicted by the British science fiction series Black Mirror in 2013. In the first episode of season 2, Black Mirror fans got to experience a world where a dead loved one can come back to life thanks to a combination of their digital footprint and artificial intelligence.

In this episode, titled Be Right Back, a woman’s boyfriend dies unexpectedly in a car crash. A short time later she learns that his online footprint can be used to create a new version of her boyfriend, accurately replicating his thoughts and personality. (Check it out in the clip below.) If you have not had a chance to watch this episode, or any other Black Mirror episode, do yourself a favor and binge-watch the series this weekend. You will not regret it. 

All of this sounds like science fiction, right? Well, according to a patent filing by Microsoft this past December, we may need to move this idea to the non-fiction category. Their patent, titled Crating a Conversational Chatbot of a Specific Person, sounds a lot like the Black Mirror episode shown above.

In the patent filing, Microsoft seeks to use “image, voice data, social media posts, electronic messages, written letters, etc.” from a specific person to train an artificial intelligence model to behave like a specific person. They even go so far as to suggest that “a 3D model of the person may be generated using images, depth information and/or video data.”

On one hand, this could be a great way for people to remember beloved family members they have lost, using their likeness to replace Siri or Alexa. Imagine, instead of saying to your phone, “hey Siri, what’s the weather like today?” and getting an impersonal, analytical response, you could instead ask your recently-passed grandfather the same and receive a witty quip that you should “remember your umbrella, you dolt” using his same voice and likeness. Sounds great, right?

On the other hand, what happens when someone uses this technology to create a deepfake chatbot that can fool a banking system, helping them empty some else’s account or take out a loan in their name? Incorrect application of such a technology has the potential to create a new way for cyber criminals to do their nefarious deeds.

Only time will tell how this all shakes out, but I’m an optimist and hope that one day my personal assistant can have a personality that I love.