Monday, 13 january 2020 | Redacción CEU
Once again, the city of Las Vegas hosted one of the most important and also bizarre international electronics events in the world: the Consumer Electronic Show (CES). It is an exhibition that serves as an international technological showcase, which invites us to guess which devices and technologies will become popular in the coming years. Many of the products presented at CES remain only as concepts, some evolve or give rise to other ideas while others end up in the market. Sometimes, it is easy to guess which projects will reach the general public and what they will look like when they do so, but other times things get complicated. For example, this is the case of Samsung’s "artificial humans". What does the idea of the Korean firm entail?
Have you ever met an "ARTIFICIAL"? That was the question that appeared on Neon's official account on Twitter last month. This is how Samsung managed to create expectation about the innovative idea that it would finally present at the last edition of CES, which took place last week in Las Vegas.
Actually, STAR Labs, whose initials refer to Samsung Technology & Advanced Research, is the firm that hides behind the development of what they call "artificial humans". What exactly do they mean when they talk about this technology? The Samsung subsidiary explains that Neon is a computationally created virtual being that looks and behaves like a real human being, with the ability to show emotions and intelligence.
STAR Labs wants to make it clear that Neon is not just an AI assistant, an Internet interface or a music player. In order to ensure this, the firm emphasizes that this technology has nothing to do with the Samsung's virtual assistant known as Bixby, but rather with something that has never been seen before. Specifically, what would differentiate these avatars from the rest of them is the fact that they have a hyper-realistic appearance, answer immediately and behave in a very similar way to human beings. They might even get angry if we mistreat them. The idea of the company is that we think about them as friends, collaborators and companions, since, according to them, they are able to connect with people, learn from them, acquire new skills and evolve.
These virtual beings answer to their name, and not to an impersonal call such as "Hello, Neon". In fact, one of this project’s features that attract the most attention is that the avatars have not only a single personality, but different ones depending on what they are used for. To make them as human as possible, STAR Labs uses two technologies: CORE 3 and SPECTRA. The first one is a kind of behavior guide that enables them to interact and respond in real time. The second one is still in a development phase. This one is related to their intelligence, learning, emotions and memories.
The purpose of the company is for, in addition to becoming our friends, these avatars to help improve some interactions such as those that people have when they reach Customer Service. They also believe that these avatars can work as presenters, spokespersons or actors. In a statement offered to El País Retina, the Chief Strategy Officer of Neon, Bo Moon, gives the following example: <<There are tellers that are behind a window and are only responsible for making bank transactions. We could use Neon to make the bank transaction and you wouldn't even know that it is not a real person. It greets you, answers you and is even able to laugh at your jokes>>.
Neon’s creators claim that these avatars may borrow features from real humans and have a voice or appearance similar to them, but they will never be completely identical to them. They also affirm that these virtual beings will not replace humans or leave the screens (they will do so only in the form of a hologram). According to them, Neon is a technology which has been designed to collaborate with people of flesh and blood.
Although some individuals have already had the opportunity to see how Neon works (it is still far away from the goal), this AI is still in development. What makes us have even more questions than answers: Will these virtual beings be able to imitate human emotions faithfully? Will they fulfill the ambitious purpose of becoming our friends? Will they interact with us credibly? Will they adequately perform tasks that need a "human touch"? Will their development bring about some kind of problem?
Mainly, what CES 2020 visitors have been able to see is promotional images with which they may get an idea of what these avatars will finally look like. We will have to wait until the end of the year to discover if they will really live up to the expectations generated, since this is the date on which the beta version is expected to be finished. What we can now say, without a shadow of a doubt, is that these virtual beings will still give much to talk about whatever their final appearance is.
The unceasing development of technology also has a major impact on the legal sector.
The CEU IAM Business School is well aware of this fact. That is the reason why our Business School has the firm purpose of training the first generation of tech lawyers. Ask for further information about our Master’s Degree in Legal Tech!