Virtual Visionaries: 『Empathetic AI identities』

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As AI and digital human technology become more advanced, we can expect them to interact in a more life-like manner, with care, kindness and compassion.

Analysis

Digital humans, or AI-powered, human-like virtual beings, have traversed the creative industry, with idols such as Chinese Liu Yexi and influencers such as mar.ia and imma garnering global attention. Today there are more than 200 active virtual influencers on social media, with other forms of digital humans emerging as workforce support in corporate environments as well as areas of healthcare and education. The market for AI digital humans is forecasted to be worth $527.58bn by 2030, up from $10bn in 2020.

Digital humans can learn, interact and express themselves in human-like ways. They are programmed to have distinct personalities and emotional intelligence that enable them to read the face and emotional tone of their audience, allowing them to provide an appropriate response. They offer free labour, 24/7 accessibility and reliability that surpasses humans. One study even found them to be more trustworthy than the real thing. Tech companies around the world are experimenting with digital humans, exploring ways it can benefit businesses, institutions and consumers.

Empathetic digital humans are being developed to provide caring, human-like support and service across industries. New Zealand-based companies Soul Machines and Replikr use generative AI to create intelligent digital humans that are capable of personal, empathetic conversations and natural facial expressions that work in the exact same way as humans do when interacting in real life. The virtual humans are targeted to use in fields where empathy skills are needed, including with medical patients and in the field of customer service.

Lucrezia Carnelos

Why it matters

The potential for digital humans is seemingly endless: they can help improve and augment existing systems, resulting in organisations being able to push more creative work and achieve goals with less resources and while maintaining empathy. As the technology advances, it’s important to identify ways to make the interaction accessible and seamless across diverse real-world contexts.

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