Chatting With the Dead: Microsoft’s Latest Patent Raises Ethical Concerns


This case invites students to engage their ethical learning to imagine both the positive and negative consequences that may arise from a newly approved Microsoft patent that uses social data to resurrect living, deceased, or fictional persons as digital entities. Although Microsoft has not yet announced a product using this tech, the approved patent raises a host of ethical and privacy concerns, which have already plagued smaller companies that use similar tech to create digital incarnations of the dead. As technological innovation continues to blur the line between science fiction and reality, this case asks students to discuss the role of ethics in the unfolding future.

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