Samsung found one way to avoid the Uncanny Valley effect of androids that kind of look human but are a bit off. Meet the virtual artificial humans called Neons.
These Neons were created by Neon, a company that came from Samsung’s Technology and Advanced Research Labs (Star Labs).
Unveiled at CES 2020, the Neons seem to have a lot of limitations.
They are not carbon copies of existing humans, each one being unique in looks and personality, and they do not know everything like Alexa or the Google Assistant would.
Actually, Neon was quick to highlight that these are not AI assistants.
“Neons are more like us, an independent but virtual living being, who can show emotions and learn from experiences. Unlike AI assistants, Neons do not know it all, and they are not an interface to the Internet to ask for weather updates or to play your favorite music,” said the company.
What do they do, then?
Well, according to their makers, they act pretty much human.
They can learn skills, acquire memories, and have conversations with humans, behaving according to their individual personalities.
Neons could work as teachers, health-care providers, concierges, or actors, as they can “goal-oriented tasks or can be personalized to assist in tasks that require a human touch.”
In the press release, Pranav Mistry, the CEO of Neon and the head of STAR Labs, said that “Neons will be our friends, collaborators, and companions, continually learning, evolving and forming memories from their interactions.“
The company was quick to underline that Neon is “NOT about Bixby” in a Twitter teaser before Christmas which… sounds good to us.
Not only is Bixby a bit annoying but we wouldn’t want to see this tech working amazingly quite this early.
After all, you saw what happened to the lovely Joi the virtual companion of the main character in the second Blade Runner set in 2049!
We’ll make our way to the booth to see exactly how the Neon artificial humans behave.
The company has warned that “scenarios shown at our CES Booth and in our promotional content are fictionalized and simulated for illustrative purposes only.”
However, on the NEON website, there is no difference in a presentation or interface from what we’ve seen on the show floor. Although there aren’t many details available, it appears that STAR Labs has partnered up with various institutions this year.
The latest partner to require their AI services is Shinhan Bank where Neons will apparently offer financial counseling.
This announcement comes after closing a deal with Korean CJ Olive Networks where the Neon AIs would help the business respond to the fast-changing media content landscape. Their first joint project would imply creating a virtual influencer to produce fresh content.
Updated 11/27: STAR Labs and Shinhan Bank partnership.