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Microsoft Wants to Reanimate You as a “Conversational” Chatbot After You Die

Straight outta Black Mirror…

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Black Mirror creator Charlie Booker made headlines earlier this year when he stated that the world was bleak enough without a new season of the infamously dark Netflix series. During the Trump and Covid years, many commentators have observed that reality seems to have matched and even outpaced the dire predictions of the world’s science fiction authors.

However, Black Mirror brought an especially sharp edge to the genre, so closely mirroring our own society’s disintegration into techno-dystopian chaos that at times it felt like a real-time satire that was a bit too on the nose.

Now, in a move that eerily invokes a number of Black Mirror plot arcs, reality seems to be trying to reclaim its monopoly on dystopia. The tech giant Microsoft has filed a patent for software that can “revive” a version of a person who has died and use that version as the basis for a conversational chatbot.

The patent describes harvesting “social data,” which includes images, voice data, emails, text messages, social media posts, written letters, user profile and behavioral data, transactional data, geo-location data and more, in order to “modify a personalized chat index in the theme of certain person’s personality. This personality may resemble anyone for whom enough social data can be found and could also be a historical figure, a fictional character, or a celebrity.

In other words, Microsoft plans to take the concept of data mining even further, imagining that even after we die it can continue to collect the digital breadcrumbs we’ve left behind online and on our computer devices. It further fancies reassembling those relics to construct lifelike character-versions of our personalities, mannerisms, and behaviors.

Obviously, not every patent leads to a finished product and many corporations, especially the Big Tech behemoths, file rafts of moonshot patents every year in the anticipation of future developments. But the very fact that Microsoft would see potential here strikes some as haunting, especially given our recent experience with the first generation of celebrity holograms.

It begs the question: would the average person want a chatbot themed off them guiding consumers through a user interface? Would consumers even want that? A chatbot themed on Elvis or Groucho Marx makes more sense, but a deceased friend or family member?

As noted by RT, Black Mirror‘s creative synergy has been oddly prescient, depicting the “social credit score” scenario before it was firmly on the public radar. There is also an episode in which a pop singer, played by Miley Cyrus, is algorithmically simulated by her record label so that when the real-life singer dies they can continue making money off her likeness forever.

Clearly, Microsoft is willing to invest in the R&D needed to explore the idea of chatbots themed off our personalities, but would such an idea fly? Even if they are able to elude the uncanny valley associated with machine simulations of humans, would the average person want to interact with a digital recreation of a dead loved one?

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Lunar New Deal: GOP Lawmaker Suggests Altering Moon & Earth’s Orbit to Stop Climate Change

Elias Marat

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Texas Republican Congressman Louise Gohmert raised the eyebrows of his Congressional colleagues on Tuesday after seemingly suggesting that climate change could be combatted by changing the orbit of the moon, or even altering “Earth’s orbit around the sun.”

Gohmert, who has been decried as the “dumbest member of Congress” for his past absurdly anti-scientific comments regarding the ongoing pandemic and a number of other issues, has been a vocal opponent of progressive legislators’ attempts to put a “Green New Deal” on the government’s agenda.

However, his apparent suggestion of a “Lunar New Deal” to mitigate global warming could take the cake as his most hare-brained idea yet.

The comments came during a House Natural Resources Committee hearing on four pending bills while questioning Jennifer Eberlien of the Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, reports NBC.

“I understand, from what’s been testified to the Forest Service and the B.L.M. [Bureau of Land Management], you want very much to work on the issue of climate change,” the Texas congressman began.

“I was informed by the immediate past director of NASA that they’ve found that the moon’s orbit is changing slightly and so is the Earth’s orbit around the sun,” he continued.

“We know there’s been significant solar flare activity,” Gohmert said. “And so, is there anything that the National Forest Service or B.L.M. can do to change the course of the moon’s orbit or the Earth’s orbit around the sun?”

“Obviously that would have profound effects on our climate,” the lawmaker added.

Responding, Eberlein said with a smile: “I would have to follow up with on you on that one, Mr. Gohmert.” 

“If you figure out there’s a way in the forest service you could make that change, I’d like to know,” Gohmert responded, without any trace of irony.

Longtime critics of the conservative legislator were besides themselves with bewilderment and mockery over the out-of-this-world suggestion.

On the opposite side of the aisle California Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu suggested that perhaps Marvel Comics superheroine Captain Marvel was up to the task.

“She can alter planetary orbits with her superpowers. I’m going to work on a bipartisan resolution asking for her help,” Lieu wrote on Twitter.

According to NASA, the Earth’s climate has changed throughout history for various reasons, including small variations in the planet’s orbit.

However, the agency’s website notes that this doesn’t discount the fact that anthropogenic or human-caused activities are the culprit of the current warming.

“The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is extremely likely (greater than 95 percent probability) to be the result of human activity since the mid-20th century and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented over millennia,” the site says.

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Man Finds Out His Grandparents’ Home Once Belonged To Girlfriend Of Serial Killer Ted Bundy

Elias Marat

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A user of Reddit has seemingly Adiscovered that his grandparents live in the same home where infamous serial killer Ted Bundy once lived.

In a post to the social platform, a photo of the user’s grandparents’ fireplace can be seen along with a picture displayed on a phone that shows a couple appearing to be posing in the same living room. The post reads: “Ted Bundy dated someone who used to live in my grandparents’ house.”

The well-known photo shows Ted Bundy embracing Elizabeth Kloepfer, who dated Bundy during his brutal killing spree that claimed about 30 lives between 1974 and 1978.

Klopfer later reported her boyfriend to the police after recognizing his face in a composite sketch. However, the police failed to apprehend him at the time due to the large influx of tips regarding possible suspects of the serial murders.

She later reported Bundy again after realizing that women were disappearing near Salt Lake City, Utah – not far from where the couple lived, and quite possibly where the home on Reddit is located.

However, this attempt also failed after a witness couldn’t identify the serial murderer in a line-up.

Bundy later allegedly scorched the head of one of his victims in the fireplace presumably pictured in the Reddit post before ditching the body in a mountain.

Bundy told then-detective Robert Keppel: “Of all the things I did to [Kloepfer], this is probably the one she is least likely to forgive me for. Poor Liz.”

Bundy was given the death penalty for his crimes and was finally executed on Jan. 24, 1989.

Redditors were convinced that the fireplace shown in the post was the same one that belonged to Kloepfer.

“That’s not ‘someone,’” one user wrote. “That’s THE one. He dated Liz for a majority of his active years.”

Another user added: “Right. And wasn’t he with Liz when he said he’d burned some body parts of a victim in a fireplace? Could this be THE fireplace?”

The original poster eventually returned to the thread to explain that they learned that the home did, indeed, once return to Kloepfer.

“The house was built for a doctor and his family who turned out to be Liz,” the poster wrote. “Liz dated Teddy for a good part of his active years and they broke up when he got arrested and had to leave the state I believe.”

“My family bought the house a few years ago with zero relation to ‘ol Teddy,” they added. “Just crazy coincidence!”

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New York Times Publishes, Then Pulls, Strange Article About ‘Fields of Watermelons on Mars’

Elias Marat

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The New York Times has long been known as the “Grey Lady of Journalism,” reflecting the newspaper’s institutional identity as a credible and respectable source of daily news.

However, on Tuesday an extremely bizarre claim graced the pages of the “paper of record”: that fields of watermelons had been discovered on Mars, a discovery made by police.

The story, which appeared as a stub, was pulled within an hour of publication. However, an archived snapshot of the “scoop” still remains.

“Authorities say rise of fruit aliens is to blame for glut of outer space watermelons,” read the story, according to a cached copy from Google News. “The FBI declined to comment on reports of watermelons raining down, but confirmed that kiwis have been intercepted.”

“This story is terribly boring,” it read.

The article has been replaced with a message noting that the story had been “published in error.”

The fact that the publication was likely the result of either a prank or human error is clear based on the byline, which attributes the story to a “Joe Schmoe.”

According to Futurism, the newspaper hasn’t yet addressed the strange incident. However, the website speculates that it may well have been an erroneous publication of a some test of the company’s backend content management system.

It goes without saying that while NASA missions and a Chinese rover are scouring Mars for native life, no large melons or kiwis have been discovered on the Red Planet.

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