Microsoft has filed a patent that raises the intriguing possibility of creating chat bots inspired by real people.
Instead of using the conventional method of training chat bots using conversations and material from a large sample of users, Microsoft’s patent raises the possibility of creating a chat bot from the output of a specific person.
The system would use “social data” such as “pictures, voicemails, social media posts, e-mails and conversations” to build a person’s profile.
“Social data could be used to create or modify a special index referring to the personality of the specific person” says the patent. “The special index could be used to train a chat bot to converse and interact by simulating the personality of a specific person”.
The chat bot might even resemble the real person. “Under some aspects, the specific person’s voice could be generated using records and sound data relating to the person” the patent states.
In addition, “a 2D / 3D model of the user could be generated using images, depth information and video data associated with the specific person”.
Microsoft’s patent could (virtually) embody any person, a friend of ours, a relative, an acquaintance, a celebrity, a fictional character, a historical figure, a casual character …
“The specific people could also match themselves (for example, the user who creates / trains the chat bot,” adds the patent, increasing the possibility of people forming a digital version of themselves that will survive forever.
The chat bot would, therefore, be trained to simulate the personal traits of the individual, in particular the “conversational attributes” of the person, “such as style, diction, tone, voice, intent, length and complexity of the sentence / dialogue, topic and coherence.”
If the chat bot doesn’t have enough data to provide an answer on a specific topic, crowdsourced conversational data repositories could be used to fill in the gaps, which almost literally means putting words in people’s mouths.
The idea of ??reincarnating people as chat bots obviously raises all sorts of privacy implications, an issue that is not discussed in the patent, which is, by its nature, concerned with the technical functioning of the system.
For example, will people have the right to opt out of such a system?
Such questions are, of course, moot until Microsoft (or someone else) delivers a working prototype.
Posterity will judge.