Artificial Intelligence and the Era of Virtual Humans

When it was first conceived in the 60s, no one could tell that Artificial Intelligence (AI) would rise to claim its place alongside humans. Computer scientists and mathematicians at the time believed that every feature of intelligence including all aspects of learning can in principle be so incisively expressed that an artificial object can be created to simulate it.

At the time it did sound a little crazy and overambitious but interesting to note is that that has remained the inherent theme under which all research on AI is based on.

At the Recode Tech Conference in June this year, Bill Gates did admit that Artificial Intelligence is the hottest thing going on in tech right now. And according to CB insights, a big-name research firm, by 2014, investment in start-ups focused on AI had increased threefold to nearly $400 million.  Recent data from them also shows that in the first quarter of 2016, funding deals had hit an all-time high of 27.

The Emergence of Virtual Humans and Revolutions in Security

Artificial intelligence has given birth to so many transformative milestones. Scene recognition is one of them, a concept that’s now been integrated into Nest’s outdoor Cameras. Nest was acquired by Google back in early 2014 and much as it had shown signs of crumbling again even after the acquisition, the release of this new camera seems to have turned things around.

Scene recognition functions pretty much like Siri and Google Now. You can call them virtual humans. These two can understand your verbal commands and turn them into action but the entry of scene recognition brings a whole new concept where a machine can discern content either within a video or photograph and go on to classify it the same way a human would. With scene recognition, the camera will be able to detect when a human has come into the scene as opposed to other movements caused by an animal or other random acts.

Other forms of AI include systems such as Sara, which stands for “socially aware robot assistant” that can not only mimic but engage people. Sara is a human replica that interacts with people in a completely new way. Interactions with her are engaging, comfortable and will always result in a great working relationship. Other than that, she can enhance task performance by helping you learn a new concept, for instance, linear algebra or assist you in navigating a conference

Sara isn’t the only intelligent virtual human you will come across today. Many giant tech companies now have their own virtual humans whose prime goal is to enhance interaction with the company’s services. Apple has Siri, Microsoft has Cortana, Amazon has Alexa and Jibo, and Google will soon be rolling out its assistants.

What the future holds for Artificial Intelligence

Looking at the way humans do things and then comparing them to these systems, it’s safer to say that we’re still far from seeing virtual humans that can really act and do things a real human would do.

But USC institute’s SimSensel program seeks to change this narrative by creating more intelligent and autonomous systems. One of their intelligent applications has been adopted by several firms and organizations including the US Army which often uses the program for leadership training.

Not forgetting to mention humanoid robots, which is yet another form of AI that is set to revolutionize the world.

As more research is done on AI, we can only sit and wait to experience another new era of doing things.