Virtual Beings–VR Days Day 3 takeaway

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Final VR Days – and I found the session block on AI & Virtual Beings fascinating.

If you’ve heard my recent round of talks you’ll know I wasn’t a massive fan of how Google Duplex seemed to purposely add human speech inflections like uh-huh to trick the person on the other end of the line that they were talking to a person. Today it was interesting to see all the panellists agree they think disclose being very important in these situations.

I was particularly interested in Cameron Wilson’s segment on his virtual modelling agency – in particular the story of Shudu – the world’s first virtual supermodel. Starting by creating the character, casting her for a shoot and then finally revealing that she isn’t real and the public feedback on it. There are many virtual humans whom have attained fame, following and influencer status. There was discussion over whether the “reality” should always be revealed, should the person or people behind these accounts be made known etc. In an age of social media where noting is as it seems – the photos are staged, the outfits carefully curated, and the filters turned up to make it look like a picture perfect reality – is that much different to a virtual influencer?

Virtual Assistants and people becoming emotionally invested in characters, stories etc. was also food for thought. It made me think of the movie Her where the main character falls in love with his virtual assistant. While to some that may seem unrealistic – I am brought back to my days of working in a game store when Lara Croft – Tomb Raider was selling like hotcakes and the many customers professed to being in love with her.

It also made me think of Robot and Frank – a companion robot that kept an elderly cat burglar with dementia company – ensuring he was eating correctly, getting the stimulation he needed etc. but also being impervious to his moods etc. With a growing aging population and ever-increasing loneliness I can’t help but think of the good this technology can do. If these assistant robots can help motivate someone to get up, get moving, and feel better about themselves and help fill the void that could outweigh the bad that they can’t emotionally invest back into that person.