Although there has been a lot of progress in artificial intelligence over the past year, there is still a lot of work to do in the most natural way possible, and AI can be an effective aid. These challenges are those that have been put into Soul Machines for the creation of Nadia, an “emotional intelligence” that seeks to be that efficient and as humane as possible.
Why EI and not AI? Beyond the search for differentiation, what this machine intends to do is to understand both verbal and non-verbal language, that is, by reading our facial expressions. In addition, one of the main objectives has been to achieve the greatest human appearance possible, and to do so have resorted to some extent to the film industry.
Efficient assistance for all
Automated help services have also been extended in recent years in parallel to this improvement in voice recognition or written commands. They are not perfect but they are able to understand more commands and in the end can solve our requests, but the idea that Soul Machines has with Nadia is to reach a higher level of humanization in the interaction between a human and a machine.
Here again we find the Inquietante Valley and the risk that an android or a virtual personage is in that place that makes for us something between human and humanoid that causes us almost more fear than comfort. This is something they have wanted to avoid struggling particularly to achieve Nadia’s human appearance in factions, gestures and voice, resorting to Cate Blanchett for her voice.
In this case as we said it is not a robot but a chatbot that goes a little beyond the usual when reading our facial expression and adjust the answer according to this (and what we have asked), hence the name “intelligence artificial”. As with any AI, in this case the system also improves as it interacts (Deep Learning).
But the idea of Soul Machines is that this help is really useful especially in the case of people who for some disability have more complicated to communicate with these automatic systems of help. An example is the CEO of the company, Mark Sagar (professor at Aukland University), explaining how useful it is in cases where the user cannot type and the EI is able to fill out a form for him.
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From fiction to the most real help
We have already mentioned and seen Cate Blanchett put the voice to Nadia, but there is still the cinematographic contribution to the project, and we already saw how digital humans were making a career in Hollywood. Mark Sagar won two Academy Awards precisely for his work on facial animations in King Kong and Avatar.
But oddities aside, the company continues to work on improving Nadia both in terms of capabilities and appearance. The level of detail is quite impressive (if you look at the simulated reflection of a screen in your eyes, as if we were in front of a screen) and the expressions and gestures are very successful.
At the moment the proposal revolves around this improved care, in fact they are working together with the Australian National Disability Insurance Scheme (a tool to help disabled people) given that it has a somewhat complex and slow bureaucracy precisely for many of its users, according to They comment on The Next Web (the NDIS web itself actually seems to work quite badly). According to the company Nadia’s tests on the NDIS website will begin in the coming months and is expected to be tested for about 12 months before being fully operational.