An AI with feelings – worthy of the movie "Her" – is the promise of a Samsung startup. The question is how much sensationalism there is in the announcement made at the CES fair.
By Carolina Fioratti
Jan 10, 2020, 6:37 pm – Posted on Jan 10, 2020, 6:29 pm
From January 7-10, in Las Vegas, United States, the 2020 CES, famous fair that brings together more than three thousand technology companies with the objective of exhibiting new products. Some presentations deliver the gold, but others only serve to leave the curious with even more doubts. This is the case with the Neon – a system that, who knows how, promises to generate artificial humans (yes, the ad was sensationalist).
Its founder is Pranav Mistry, CEO of STAR Labs. The Indian kid genius also bears on his resume a stint in Microsoft's Xbox console hardware – among other gadgets such as the not-so-famous Samsung smartwatch. Although its comic-book startup is funded by the Korean company, the development of this new artificial intelligence system is totally independent.
It is difficult to understand what's new in the proposal. After all, reasonably smart voice assistants like Siri and Alexa are already available in the market (know their pros and cons in this SUPER report). And they have a role in helping people organize their schedule or play music, which is not on Mistry's horizon.
His idea is different: to create artificial humans whose function is to serve as imaginary friends. They would not be personal assistants able to inform the weather or the capital of Kazakhstan (Astana), but rather an intentional attempt at something close to what happens in the movie “Ela” (Her). The personality of these virtual avatars would be built on their own experiences in a dystopian application of machine learning.
For its operation, two tools were created. The first of these is the Core R3 – all three errors mean reality, real time and responsiveness – software that is known for nothing but its name and pimposo acronym. The other is called Spectra, which focuses on learning, emotions and memory. The second is still in the process of improvement, but the technology is still promised by 2020.
As for the visual characteristics of the Neons, their bodies are created from images of real people, which are inserted into the "brain" of the machine. Your phrases and expressions are also automatically generated in real time. Questions asked by users are answered in milliseconds, or should be.
In a video released by the CNET technology site, you can see a journalist interacting with Neon on the CES panel, but the generic answers are lacking. At the event, they were displayed full length, but when interacting with users, they will probably appear only from the shoulders up, as in a video chat via Skype.
Anyway, it should be remembered that, for now, Neon is just a prototype. The trouble-free end product will take about four years to deliver. The price and date of arrival on the market are still mysteries. But we know that it will not be possible to acquire an artificial human individually.
The main customer will not be lonely singles, but businesses. Among the functions to be developed, the most promising is as an interpreter or language teacher, as Neon avatars are supposed to be able to decode any language. Other companies may offer to lease Neons and their services. Your new colleague would probably appear on your mobile devices or, perhaps in the future, in hologram form. The only certainty is that no robots will be manufactured.
In interview with The VergeMistry shows confusion in explaining the Neon. In fact, it goes so far as to say that it has enough money to live in and now wants to be remembered for its creation. Was it just another madman or Van Gogh of technology? Well, we'll have to wait to find out.