It’s realistic, but can it walk and talk like a human?
On Friday we wrote about Samsung’s mysterious “artificial human” project Neon, speculating that the company was building realistic human avatars that could be used for entertainment and business purposes, acting as guides, receptionists, and more.
Research assistant Autumn Trimble sits inside “Mugsy,” one of the capture facilities Pittsburgh’s Facebook Reality Lab uses to create “codec avatars.”
“There’s this big, ugly sucker at the door,” the young woman says, her eyes twinkling, “and he said, ‘Who do you think you are, Lena Horne?’ I said no but that I knew Miss Horne like a sister.”
It’s the beginning of a short soliloquy from Walton Jones’ play The 1940’s Radio Hour, and as she continues with the monologue it’s easy to see that the young woman knows what she’s doing. Her smile grows while she goes on to recount the doorman’s change of tune—like she’s letting you in on the joke. Her lips curl as she seizes on just the right words, playing with their cadence. Her expressions are so finely calibrated, her reading so assured, that with the dark background behind her, you’d think you were watching a black-box revival of the late-’70s Broadway play.
There’s only one problem: Her body disappears below the neck.
Yaser Sheikh reaches out and stops the video. The woman is a stunningly lifelike virtual-reality avatar, her performance generated by data gathered beforehand. But Sheikh, who heads up Facebook Reality Labs’ Pittsburgh location, has another video he considers more impressive. In it, the same woman appears wearing a VR headset, as does a young man. Their headsetted real-life selves chat on the left side of the screen; on the right side, simultaneously, their avatars carry on in perfect concert. As mundane as the conversation is—they talk about hot yoga—it’s also an unprecedented glimpse at the future.
New technologies are opening the door to near-everlasting life as well as a myriad of ethical and philosophical questions.
Technologists are working on a variety of ways to avoid death — including uploading your brain to a computer.
Entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and beyond are attempting to disrupt what has long been seen as one of the only inevitabilities of life: death.
Computer scientists and artificial intelligence specialists are developing programs that allow people to theoretically avoid death, opening the door to near-everlasting life as well as a myriad of ethical and philosophical questions.
A new generation of celebrities is selling out concerts, starring in commercials, and amassing huge Instagram followings. But none of them exist—corporeally, anyway. In recent years, and starting in Japan, technology and social media have spawned a digital demimonde of computer-generated stars, ranging from fake musicians and models to company mascots who appear as holograms (like Betty Crocker, with AI). When they’re not entertaining you, they’re trying to convince you of their humanity, and even the more cartoonish among them have fleshed-out personalities. In a way, it’s the purest expression of celebrity, which has always been an elaborate illusion. CGI starlets, though, “are much easier to control,” says Ryan Detert, CEO of the branding firm Influential. Except when they misbehave.
UBS Chief Economist Daniel Kalt is in very high demand. So, the Swiss investment bank decided to clone him, digitally at least. Now through a rendering captured by more than 120 high-definition cameras in over a full day of shooting, the company can have Kalt (or at least his likeness) meet with multiple clients at a time via interactive video chat, without ever even stepping foot in the conference room.
The majority of cinema screens in the U.S. are expected to go digital in 2012.
We are used to seeing the standard 35 mm film in movie theaters but that will be replaced worldwide by digital technology in the next few years, and the hit blockbuster film “Avatar” is to blame for the shift, according to a new report.