In recent years, lawmakers and data protection organizations have put pressure on technology and digital companies for the protection and privacy of user data.
While it is not yet perfect, we can say that some digital platforms are making efforts in this direction. However, when the legal framework for how our data is used while we are alive is fairly well established, there is a certain legal vacuum as to what will become of our data after we die.
Microsoft is working on a chatbot with a “disruptive” concept
In 2017 we learned that Microsoft was working on a somewhat morbid project. In fact, the company had patented a chatbot that the living could continue to use to converse with the dead. By what miracle or what curse? Use of technology and in particular artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Microsoft officials were the first to admit that the idea of a chatbot that could bring digital personalities back to life from the dead was somewhat “unsettling.” They also pointed out that the design of this chatbot wasn’t planned yet, but according to TNW, the software giant already has the technical tools and personal data necessary to bring about the birth of this software.
Chatbots that have already passed the Turing test
Most worryingly, these artificial intelligence chatbots have already passed the Turing test. In other words, digital doppelgangers have been successful at tricking people into thinking they are who they claim to be. Worse still, there is currently no legal framework for this area of digital reincarnation that would allow private companies to do whatever they want with our data after we die.
Digital doubles have managed to get people to believe they are who they say they are. Photo credit: Shutterstock / Nomad_Soul
Additionally, Microsoft wouldn’t be the only company interested in the digital resurrection. A company called IA Eternime has also developed a smart chatbot that gathers various information such as geolocation, activity, Facebook data, and photos of a person so that users can create an avatar that will survive after death.
A legal framework should also regulate the dates of the dead
At this time, the laws governing the use of post-mortem user data are unclear. For example, the European Union only guarantees the confidentiality of living data. Some countries such as France, Italy, Latvia, and Estonia have passed autopsy data laws.
Google and Facebook, who primarily control our data, tried to solve the problem by giving users the chance to choose during their lifetime what to do with their data after death in order to avoid litigation. TNW points out, however, that these measures do not replace laws. Sooner or later the legislature will have to grapple with the question of how to respect the privacy of the dead and the wishes of their heirs.