What do we get if we make cars “humane”?

The boundaries between the real world and the digital world continue to break down, and the importance of the latter in our personal and professional life continues to grow. Some describe the melting of virtual and real worlds as part of the fourth industrial revolution. The full impact of this revolution on us as individuals, our companies, societies and communities remains unknown.

Greg Kross, chief business officer for the New Zealand artificial intelligence company Soul Machines, finds that one of the inevitable consequences of these crumbling boundaries is that people spend more and more time interacting with technology. During a presentation at the Global Summit Sungularity University in San Francisco last month, Cross showed the latest work of Soul Machines and shared his views on the current state of human-type AI, and where this technology could lead us in the near future.

Humanizing games with technology

First Cross introduced Rachel, one of the “emotionally responsive digital people” Soul Machines. The company has built 15 different digital people of different sexes, groups and races. Rachel, along with her “sisters” and “brothers”, has a virtual nervous system based on neural networks and biological models of various paths of the human brain. The system is controlled by virtual neurotransmitters and hormones such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin, which affect learning and behavior.

As a result, every digital person can have his own unique set of “feelings” and responses to interactions. People can communicate with him using visual and sound sensors, and the machines will respond in real time.

“Over the last 20 or 30 years, our thoughts about machines and our interaction with them have changed,” says Cross. “But we always believed that they should be more humanlike.”

The realism of graphical representations of digital people is provided by the forces of another co-founder of Soul Machines, Dr. Mark Sagger, who received two academic awards for his work on several computer films, including James Cameron’s Avatar.

Cross noted, for example, that instead of being impeccable and clean, Rachel’s skin is covered with freckles and birthmarks, like real human skin.

The next neurocomputer threshold

When people interact with each other face to face, emotional and intellectual participation greatly influences this interaction. How will the machines involved in the dialogue be emotionally and intellectually, and how will this kind of dialogue affect our feelings and relations with AI?

Cross and his colleagues believe that humanizing artificial intelligence will make technology more useful to humanity and encourage people to use AI in increasingly useful ways.

“We believe that it is very important for our advancement that machines can be more useful to us. They can be more useful for us. They can be more interesting to us if they are more like us, “says Cross.

This approach seems to be shared by other companies and organizations. For example, in the UK, NatWest Bank is testing Cora, a digital assistant, which helps respond to users’ requests. In Germany, Daimler Financial Group plans to use Sarah as a personal concierge for its customers. According to Cross, Daimler is looking for other ways to deploy digital people in the organization, starting with digital sales and, in the future, digital chauffeurs.

The last creation of Soul Machines is Will, a digital teacher who can communicate with children through a desktop computer, tablet or mobile device, helping them to learn new things about renewable energy. Cross considers other social applications for digital people, including potential work as doctors in rural communities.

Our digital friends – and brothers

Not only does Soul Machines try to humanize technology. In this direction, many technology companies, including Amazon, work. Amazon is working on a home robot, which, according to Bloomberg, “should become something like a mobile Alexa.”

The search for more human forms for technology seems especially common in Japan. Not only when it affects a variety of robots, but also virtual assistants, like Gatebox.

The Japanese approach is perhaps best summarized by the well-known android developer Dr. Hiroshi Ishiguro: “The human brain is set up to recognize and interact with people. Thus, it makes sense to focus on developing the body for the AI ​​mind, as well as for AI. I believe that the ultimate goal for both Japanese and other companies and scientists is to create interaction as a human type. ”

During the presentation of Cross, Rob Neil, CEO of Singularity University, suggested that Rachel be the first fully digital university lecturer. Rachel agreed, and although she is now the only digital teacher, she predicted that it would not take long.

“In 10 years all of you will have digital versions of yourself, like me, for solving specific problems, and this will make life much easier,” she says. “This is great news for me. I will have a million digital friends. “

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