CES 2020 | Samsung's NEONs are basically just deepfake-esque digital assistants
After all the hype and expectation surrounding Samsung’s NEON project, the product revealed today at CES 2020 falls flat.
Samsung officially took the veil off NEON today. According to STAR Labs, the subsidiary behind the project, NEON is “a new kind of life.” Per the NEON.life website:
NEON, our first artificial human is here. NEON is a computationally created virtual being that looks and behaves like a real human, with the ability to show emotions and intelligence.
Claiming that NEON is “like a new kind of life,” Pranav Mistry, CEO of STAR Labs, had made some lofty claims about the project. According to Mistry, NEON is a new kind of artificial intelligence; it isn’t meant for mundane tasks like fetching weather updates or sending text messages, but rather is designed to give someone users to converse with.
That’s not to say that the NEON “artificials” can’t do those tasks. To be honest, no one knows what NEON can actually do. All of the press material, videos, photos, and everything surrounding NEON is not reflective of the final product. Rather, STAR Labs has only shown off simulations. As such, it’s still up in the air as to what NEON is meant to do.
Mistry claims that NEON will help users with a variety of tasks:
In the near future, one will be able to license or subscribe to a NEON as a service representative, a financial advisor, a healthcare provider, or a concierge. Over time, NEONs will work as TV anchors, spokespeople, or movie actors; or they can simply be companions and friends.
China’s state-run news media has already demonstrated an A.I.-based digital anchor that has appeared on-air in the past, but that software is more akin to a Google Assistant-powered newsfeed attached to a deepfake recording.
STAR Labs has also emphasized the “Core R3” software behind NEON. Designed around the “Three R’s” (Reality, Realtime, Responsive), Core R3 is more mysterious than NEON at this point.
While STAR Labs has stated that NEON is nothing like digital assistants (e.g., Siri, Amazon Alexa) or deepfake videos, it sure looks like a mashup of the two technologies. We’ll learn more next week at CES as STAR Labs will be giving live demonstrations of NEON avatars.
At least nothing has ever gone wrong with an artificial intelligence-powered chatbot before.