Tal Melenboim

Exploring the Blurry Lines Between Humans, VR and AR

Emerging technologies such as Blockchain technology, Virtual Reality (VR), and Artificial Intelligence (VR) are gradually becoming a regular part of life in the 21st century. As Israelis, we have front row seats to the practical applications of AI in defence. For instance, the IDF has a Sigma unit in its C4i branch and the main mandate of Signa “is to develop, research, and implement the latest in artificial intelligence and advanced software research in order to keep the IDF up to date.” Recently, Rafael revealed that its Advanced Defence System’s Spice bombs are now outfitted with AI for automatic target recognition and scene-matching technology.

Beyond defence, Israel is taking up a strategic position on the global stage as an AI hub. Israeli AI startups such as orCam, Woo, Wizer, Aquant, and Wibbitz are pushing the frontiers of what’s possible with artificial intelligence across a range of industries.

We are seeing a developing trend in which AI could disrupt the marketing industry exponentially.

Introducing CGI influencers

Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) is gradually taking over the influencer marketing industry with the arrival of CGI influencers. These are avatars with social media accounts, doing humanlike things, generating buzz, and attracting followers until they earn influencer status. If you are active on social media, you might’ve heard about Lil Miquela, a CGI influencer created by an L.A. startup. She has more than 1.6M followers on Instagram, she’s had sponsorship deals with high street brands such as Calvin Klein and she has an interesting story to tell through her persona.

Bringing it home, our very own Zoe Dvir is gradually gaining traction as a homegrown CGI influencer to watch. She’s attracted more than 32K followers on Instagram in the last three months and it might not be too long before her voice is heard on major issues.

In April she tested the stirred up the waters during elections with a post in which she said, “I don’t know who to vote for, who should I vote?” while standing next to a ballot box.

The comments to her post ranged from “Amazing” to “You are beautiful and special” to “She’s a doll”; and of course, “choose me”.

She also made another post in a tech store in which she was contemplating whether to buy a Mac or a PC. It was interesting to see people going out of their way to give her recommendations without recourse to whether she was human or not.

Can avatars develop emotional intelligence through AI?

New developments in VR could make it eventually hard to know what’s human what’s not and this could have profound implications for many industries. AI is already being used or tested in many consumer-facing roles. For instance, AI-powered chatbots have become the norm in healthcare, FinTech, banking, and retail. Bots now handle many different facets of customer service and the workflow is intertwined with other humans such that it might be difficult to know when you are interfacing with a chatbot or when the discussion has been escalated to a human being.

There have been concerns that the rise of AI is leading to the loss of some jobs and that the trend will become rampant as AI becomes smarter. However, humanists often argue that computers lack the capacity to displace humans even though automation seems to be eroding some monotonous and repetitive tasks. Humanists often contend that computers lack the resilience, teamwork, judgement, leadership, and collective consciousness that makes humans uniquely human.

However, giving avatars, chatbots, and CGI humanoids emotional intelligence appears to be the next logical step in the VR and AR industries as the line between what’s real and what’s not continue to blur. The Deep Learning aspects of AI could hasten the speed at which AI becomes adept at responding to human emotions, moods, vocal undertones, facial expressions, and non-verbal forms of communication.

It will be interesting to see a time when CGI influencers become autonomous enough to make AI-powered costs and comments. Richard Yonck, founder of Intelligent Future Consulting in a conversation with WSJ notes that latest developments in the field of AI are geared towards making technology that can interact seamlessly with humans. “In the past number of years, we’ve moved toward increasingly natural user interfaces—touch, gesture, voice. Emotional awareness is the next natural progression from this.”

About the Author
Tal Melenboim, serial entrepreneur (Movota sold to Bertelsmann AG, Score:Plug acquired by Spil Games) and engineer (8 US Patents applications). Decades’ experience in bringing cutting edge digital technologies and solutions to the market, specializing in marketing and the gaming industry.
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