Not only is 2019 the year of the pig
🐷. It’s also the year of the avatar
🤖. In an article investigating the future of the avatar space
, Richard Moss
predicts that AI-generated characters will pop up more and more. There has been a recent explosion of AI avatar products, which come with different capabilities, aesthetics, and even terms to describe these anthropomorphically
embodied AI agents, such as “Aya”, “virtual being”, and “digital human”. The questions is: why now?
Avatars: The Adjacent Alternative to Robots
A recent blog post
by our company TwentyBN
explains the rise of AI avatars through the framework of the Adjacent Possible
, which describes innovation as building on top of different combinations of existing ideas. In a nutshell, the right spare parts
🛠️ have to conceptually or physically exist for innovators to build cutting-edge products. For instance, YouTube could not exist before the Internet and Uber not before the mass adoption of smartphones.
While technologists have long dreamed of creating intelligent robots that behave like humans, TwentyBN argues that, due to technical challenges, such robots are yet to enter a reality where they can add value to our lives. However, by using existing spare parts like large volumes of data and GPU machines to train deep neural networks, and by rendering 3D characters via game engines, now we can create intelligent AI avatars that can hold a seemingly natural interaction while maintaining eye-contact with us.
The world is not ready for a robot with both a brain and a body, but it’s certainly ready for a brain without a body 🧠.
Tech Convergence: Say Goodbye to Clippy
In the article “The Rise of a New Generation of AI Avatars
”, Aaron Frank
, a lecturer at Singularity University, encapsulates TwentyBN’s hypothesis by comparing Microsoft’s infamously annoying, Clippy
, to a new generation of AR avatars that can potentially be useful and engaging.
Frank suggests that three core technologies, i.e. AI, modern game engines, and AR now enable companies to create avatars that can engage in complex and interactive conversations. Armando Kirwin from Artie shared with Frank the idea of an avatar layer full of “Clippy-esque” avatars around us. While Kirwin’s imagination of a nascent avatar layer is exciting, we’re less enthusiastic about having Clippy-esque avatars everywhere 😛.