Different belief systems tell us a range of possibilities once we pass away. Some say we either land in heaven or hell. Some say our souls can overstay in The Middle. Some visualize a void where we can’t feel or see anything, just pitch black. Still others say we’d be reincarnated or reborn.
This makes me wonder: What happens to our thoughts? Where do our interests, expressions and memories go when our bodies give up? Do they just vanish instantly?
The people behind Microsoft probably lost sleep mulling over this. According to Forbes, the company has filed a patent that poses the possibility of digitally bringing the deceased back to life. As a chat bot, that is.
This goes against the usual process of training chat bots using material from various users. What if it just acquires these from a specific person?
Witness your afterlife version as your kinda-twin, but virtual: the system would use “social data” such as pictures, messages, social media posts, and even voice data—so it can really sound like you. “In some aspects, a voice font of the specific person may be generated using recordings and sound data related to that person,” the patent reveals.
Just when you thought there’s no way you could star in a potential “Black Mirror” episode, a 2D/3D model of you “may be generated using images, in-depth information, and/or specific data with the specific person.”
Is this the afterlife intrusion you’re willing to sign up for? Or are you willing to have traces of you prowling the internet?
To be fair (uhm, I guess), Microsoft is also open to choose living people as the subject of this particular patent. “The specific person [whom the chat bot represents] may correspond to a past or present entity (or a version), such as a friend, a relative, an acquaintance, a celebrity, a fictional character, a historical figure, a random entity etc.”
‘Till then, we’ll check if Microsoft’s working prototype could potentially live up to our individual legacies. The other option right now is to be a tree.
Art by Zaila Mae Urmeneta