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WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

Avatars that resemble real people, in their behaviours and speech, are on the rise, and some people are using them to create immortal versions of themselves.

 

Soul Machines, the company behind some of the world’s most human-like digital avatars that are already in service assisting customers of companies including ANZ Bank, Autodesk, Daimler, and Royal Bank of Scotland, as well as moonlighting as digital teachers that’s already been used to educate over 250,000 children about renewable energy, has announced that it’s launched its new “Digital DNA Platform” to make the creation of bespoke, life-like avatars even easier.

 

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Soul Machines has already famously produced a number of what it calls “digital humans” such as a life-like digital baby that reacts to people’s emotions like a regular baby would, as well as the customer service and teachers mentioned above. So far each of these avatars has been based on the physical features of a real person, but Digital DNA is designed to do away with this labour intensive step – a development Soul Machines Chief Business Officer Greg Cross said will reduce the amount of time it takes to create them down from months to a matter of mere minutes. And for starters Cross envisions businesses using the platform to create multiple virtual employees who can fit any customer’s specific preference.

“Rather than having a single digital human or a single digital employee as a brand representative, we believe that on an on going basis customers should be able to choose who they want to interact with. Do you want to interact with a male or a female? Do you want to interact with somebody who’s the same age or ethnicity as you? Do you want to interact with a digital human that speaks English or Spanish? So all of these things using our Digital DNA platform become a whole bunch easier going forward,” he said.

In addition to making lifelike digital faces, Soul Machines uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) neural networks to animate the movement of bodies of digital characters so they’re able to move in ways that mimic human movement.

 

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Based in New Zealand, Soul Machines is the brainchild of founder Mark Sagar, whose work in digital graphics for movies like King Kong and Spider-Man 2 won him an Academy Award. And beyond applications in business, Soul Machines is exploring the creation of avatars for celebrities, sports stars, and famous actors and actresses.

Autodesk’s Ava assistant, for example, is based on New Zealand actress Shushila Takao, while the company has also made an avatar based on actress Kate Beckinsale, and other projects in the works include an avatar for a popular musician and an effort to animate a long-dead artist.

“What’s interesting about this artist is we’ll be able to bring somebody back to life in an interactive way that’s been dead for a good number of years, so yeah, there are certainly use cases we imagine, and that’s an example of one were working on,” Cross said.

 

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Avatars for game and entertainment industry clients or allowing people to make their own “digital twin” may also emerge, he said.

So the only question I have left now is, what will you do with your avatar? Maybe, like I discussed in a recent Future of Work keynote I gave to Allen &Overy, a global law firm based out of the UK, you’ll create a digital twin that goes to work for you – and that’s not as far fetched as you might think it is… or how about creating a digital version of yourself that lives on long after you’re gone? Something else that even a couple of Fortune 100 CEO’s area already experimenting with so they can advise their companies “from beyond the grave.” The possibilities are endless, and also crazy… welcome to the future.

Source: Soul Machines

About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers” and a “Young Kurzweil,” is the founder and CEO of the World Futures Forum and the 311 Institute, a global Futures and Deep Futures consultancy working between the dates of 2020 to 2070, and is an award winning futurist, and author of “Codex of the Future” series. Regularly featured in the global media, including AP, BBC, CNBC, Discovery, RT, and Viacom, Matthew’s ability to identify, track, and explain the impacts of hundreds of revolutionary emerging technologies on global culture, industry and society, is unparalleled. Recognised for the past six years as one of the world’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an international speaker who helps governments, investors, multi-nationals and regulators around the world envision, build and lead an inclusive, sustainable future. A rare talent Matthew’s recent work includes mentoring Lunar XPrize teams, re-envisioning global education and training with the G20, and helping the world’s largest organisations envision and ideate the future of their products and services, industries, and countries. Matthew's clients include three Prime Ministers and several governments, including the G7, Accenture, Bain & Co, BCG, Credit Suisse, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, E&Y, GEMS, Huawei, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, Lego, McKinsey, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Samsung, Sopra Steria, T-Mobile, and many more.

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