Samsung’s NEON as a step towards an AI-assisted world
We all have read books or seen movies depicting a futuristic world with flying cars and personal AI assistants, a post-apocalyptic era where the earth as we know it has been completely transformed into a dystopian tech trash planet. One cannot say much about the flying cars or tech trash world yet, but in an attempt to make science fiction a reality, Samsung’s future factory STAR labs have developed Neon, AI-powered virtual beings that not only look like real humans but also behave like them with emotions and intelligence.
How exactly human-like are NEONS in their behaviour? Their various attributes and features include being able to sympathise and converse, move, express and talk like real human beings. They can even learn and remember things about their user and speak any language1. Each NEON has its own personality bringing them closer in resemblance as well as behaviour to human beings.
Essentially, one can have an AI companion that will not only look like a normal human but behave like one too! One could imagine a NEON best friend who will listen to your daily life drama and tell you to break up with that inconsiderate significant other. In fact, you’ll be wishing good morning to your NEON office receptionist daily or even watch a news channel with a NEON anchor whose political views you might not agree with. Given the current upward trend of people getting emotionally attached to animated characters to the point of getting married, it is perfectly plausible that in the future you might be crushing hard on a NEON actor starring in movies and TV shows. Soon you’ll be calling up your NEON financial advisor who will tell you to spend less on silly purchases or a healthcare provider telling you to get the best health insurance package for your family. The possibilifties will be endless as they evolve!
Lead is released into the environment by automobiles running on lead-based petrol, burning of fossil fuels like coal, and smelting industries. Although lead-based petrol in India was banned in 2001, lead has a high persistence time and can stay for long in the environment, once released (US-EPA, 2017). Chromium adds to the pool from metallurgy or electroplating industries. High levels of lead in blood have been associated with disorders like ADHD (Attention-deficit hypertensive disorder) and high chromium levels are known to impair neurological development in children (Roy et al., 2009).
But what makes them human-like, rather than AI assistants, is that they won’t be able to answer all your fact acquiring questions or obey your commands like Alexa or Siri. They won’t be available to you 24/7, they will need rest and time for themselves like us humans too. According to Pranav Mistry, the CEO of STAR labs, calling NEONS machines or AI would defeat their purpose of making these human-like beings. They can be better called a new species just like many that already exist on our planet.
So how were these AI-powered virtual beings created?2 The company revealed these AI chatbots on Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2020, a world’s gathering place for all those who thrive on the business of consumer technologies. NEONs are run by the long-time research executive and recently named CEO of STAR labs, Pranav Mistry. NEON is abbreviated from NEO(new)+humaN. Mistry said in an interview, “NEONS would be our friends, collaborators, companions, continually learning, evolving and forming memories from their interactions.”
Keeping in mind the logical human behaviour, a CoreR3 technology platform was developed.
The 3 R’s stand for Reality (do they look real?), Realtime (is there any lag in their movements?) and Responsive (do they react to what I say?), together forming the pillars of CORE R3. A combination of canonical principles like behavioural neural networks, evolutionary generative intelligence and computational reality was employed to create these human-like beings. While it was easier to classify human behaviour but difficult to create it, these three combined together were able to achieve just that with computational reality helping to learn and remember various information and behavioural gestures.
An additional platform still in development, called Spectra, will compliment CORE R3 with more artificial intelligence, emotions and memory. NEON beta is planned to be released by the end of 2020, as was announcd in CES 2020.
Till what extent will be our privacy be sacrificed as we will be surrounded by technology all of the time? As we wake up, many of us send good morning snaps to our friends, put our breakfast pictures on our Instagram stories and share even our most minute achievements on the internet. Throughout the day we are surrounded by technology and social media with our GPS based location “on” most of the time. In a way, we are already losing our privacy as time goes on. But with NEONS and other similar AI technology, certain rules and regulations have to be laid down by the government. Since we have only gotten a glimpse of NEON we cannot say how exactly it will function but the way technology has become an integral part of our lives, NEONS might soon be considered normal in our day to day lives.3
The ethical and moral issues are also a concern as artificial humans come into play. Will the masses accept NEON companions? Many of us are weirded out by machines and artificial intelligence that very closely resembles a person but is not a person at all, as seen as a response to the children’s movie ‘The Polar Express’, where the graphics were used in a such a way that the characters had an almost human-like appearance, making people uneasy. NEONS seem to be flitting on this uncanny valley4. Realism might backfire5. Another concern is that “Is involving AI at such a level a step in the right direction?” it’s not possible to answer this question at this point but it can be something to be pondered upon.
Scira - We’re Indian undergrads, aiming to restore people’s receding faith in science.
Our team - Deepti Roy(Lead, research team), Dhriti Jha(writer), Priyam Chopra(writer), and Nitesh(research).
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Nitesh - Microbiology undergrad. An aspiring entrepreneur, enthusiastic learner and a football fanatic.
Pritam - microbiology undergraduate. An inquisitive, curious person who is a big fan of all things science fiction.
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Deepti - Biomedical science graduate. You can find her re-running her codes on her laptop, reading books and forgetting to finish them and ofcourse, annoying her pet dog at any given moment.
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