While Black Mirror is just another mediocre Netflix show at this point, it's almost hard to remember it was once a hard-hitting series exploring the future of technology in our society. Anyone who has seen the show remembers the episode where artificial intelligence gains access to a deceased human's emails, texts, social media accounts, etc. in order to recreate the person's personality and upload it to an identical robot. While the rest of us were debating the morality of the idea, lightbulbs were going off in the Microsoft HQ. Eight years after the release of the episode, Microsoft has officially filed a claim for a patent based on the same idea.
The patent, titled "Creating a conversational chatbot of a specific person," details a system that would access images, voice data, social media posts, electronic messages and the like to "create or modify a special index in the theme of the specific person's personality." In some cases, images and video could be used to create a 3D model of the person for extra realism.
The only reason they are doing a 3D model is because we aren't at the point where we can create realistic robots yet. Although the way the sex doll industry is advancing I have a feeling that option will be readily available sooner than later. I’m not going to discuss the talking points presented in the episode because they have been beaten to death at this point. Also, the episode does a much better job of presenting the reality of the situation than I can. What I will discuss is how this will affect us in ways beyond corresponding with an AI recreation of dead family members.
First of all, while designed with intentions of helping people grieve, you know people aren't just going to order loved ones to be recreated. I’d imagine instantly people will want AI chatbots of celebrities to act out twisted fantasies. That one is a gimme however, we already see people in the modern day pull creepy antics like this. The technology that is being invented in order to create these personalities has wider implications. Who says the bot will just be used to recreate other people? The first person I’m ordering when this becomes available is a version of myself. I’ll upload it to my phone and have it automatically respond to texts, post on all socials, keep up with DM’s across all platforms, and in general run my life so I don’t have to check my phone as often.
Beyond this, online dating will become impossible. One day a man will fall in love with a woman on Tinder, just to realize he was talking to a bot for the last 3 months. Millennials will be screaming “back in my day, catfishing meant a fat girl took deceiving photos, not that I was talking to a goddamn robot!”. Hell, who is to say that two bots won’t match with each other spawning an endless conversation? Not only is that a likely reality, it will also probably be a movie where the twist is that they gain consciousness and fight to finally meet each other.
As AI progresses, the world we know will change forever. Even beyond the social purposes of this AI, millions will become unemployed as this AI performs tasks much quicker and cheaper than their human counterparts. We are playing with fire as a species, and one can only hope this tech is simply used to help those grieving.
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