Samsung’s NEON won’t take your job but could combat your loneliness

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The CEO of Samsung’s STAR Labs was recently interviewed in regards to NEON, the artificial human prototype showcased at CES 2020. In the recent discussion with The Economic Times, Pranav Mistry revealed more about why he created NEON and how the artificial human could be used to better humanity. Once again, technical details were scarce and we’ll have to wait at least until later this year to see the final product in action.NEON aims to bridge the gap between humans and AIIn the recent interview, Pranav Mistry further reaffirmed that NEON is not an AI assistant like Bixby, nor a chatbot. This doesn’t necessarily imply that NEONs are incapable of doing what AI assistants do. The focus, however, is on humanizing the AI and giving it a face. Basically, NEONs are interfaces designed to make AI more approachable. Or as Pranav Mistry calls them, they are front-end-human interfaces to the machines.Does this mean that NEONs could be ‘attached’ to any AI to give it a unique personality? Unfortunately, this detail remains unclear, but it would certainly be interesting if such APIs for potential partners would be made available later down the line.The recent interview didn’t touch on the AI behind NEON at all. However, we know that the platform should rely on the so-called Core R3 and SPECTRA proprietary technologies, the latter of which lends its artificial intelligence to NEONs. Therefore, NEONs should, at least in theory, be self-sufficient without exterior AI components.NEON is not meant to replace human jobs, but it could cure lonelinessPowerful AI can disrupt the job market, and this is one of the reasons why many people are reluctant towards this emerging technology. However, Pranav Mistry doesn’t want NEONs to replace human jobs. He gave an example of how a NEON could be used as a backup news anchor for news that may be breaking at very late hours, instead of a NEON becoming the primary news anchor. It could also contact users and brief them on the latest happenings in a more personal manner. Sort of like a chatbot, by the sound of it, but again, NEONs are not chatbots according to its creator.The CEO mostly stressed that, although current AI assistants may be capable of providing answers to queries, they are incapable of showing human emotions. Many people are feeling lonely in today’s society, despite the impressive technological advancements, and NEONs could be the solution to that. This seems to be an important selling point for future NEONs. They could become human companions to an extent.NEONs could be cartoon characters?Up until now, NEONs have been described as ‘artificial humans’ but, interestingly enough, STAR Labs’ CEO also hinted at the possibility of cartoon characters being brought to life through this technology. Mind you, he didn’t outright confirm or deny this, but he exemplified how cartoon characters are not just in the movies but in our dreams, and now there is a human connection between us and them, even though they are not technically real. This is the reason behind doing this [NEON], he concluded. To make characters more lifelike and interactive, and to bridge the gap between humans and AI; hopefully, all the while avoiding the uncanny valley.All in all, NEONs seem to be planned to become the face of AI. Exactly how smart they will be is unclear, but a lot of information is still missing. The CEO claims that NEONs are not chatbots nor AI assistants, yet they seem to be capable of performing these tasks, or at the very least, interface with other technologies to add a more human element between them and the users. Whether or not this will have the intended effect remains to be seen. A beta release is planned for the end of the year, and hopefully, we’ll get to learn more about NEON before then.

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