Soul Machines sparks interest at Cannes

In the news on AdExchanger: 

AI Had a Modest Showing At Cannes, But Here Are Some Notable Developments

By: Ryan Joe // June 22, 2017

Excerpt from the article:

IBM Watson/Weather Channel And Soul Machines

"If you’ve seen “Avatar” or “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” you’ve seen Dr. Mark Sagar’s work.

For those films, Sagar won two Oscars for his facial motion capture work. But at a Cannes event hosted by MEC, Sagar was repping his startup Soul Machines, which creates avatars – or in his preferred parlance, “digital humans” – to be used as customer service representatives. Watson, of course, provides the AI.

Despite the viability of video conferencing, contact centers still rely on voice calls. But the problem with video conferencing is that it presumes the service rep is well-groomed and camera-ready, and – let’s be honest – that’s just not everyone’s forte.

Sagar insists his digital humans aren’t meant to replace service reps. Rather, like automated contact centers, they can relieve human employees of more menial tasks.

Digital humans, however, are lifelike and are designed to mimic emotion to establish a human-like connection. Are you calling because your credit card was stolen? The digital human will look sad. Are you ordering flowers to celebrate your 50th wedding anniversary? The digital human will duly look happy.

Sagar said his digital humans are already in a handful of pilots and that the solution is scalable, not particularly cost-prohibitive and highly customizable.

But actual nondigital humans are still involved, at least in the testing phase. For a project Sagar is doing with the Australian government working with people with disabilities, for example, the deployment is highly curated, with psychologists ensuring that the digital humans respond to human users in the best way possible.

Of course, another test will be to see whether digitized faces, despite recent advancements, have fully crossed the uncanny valley – at least enough for most consumers to accept."

Kirrily Denny