SOUL MACHINES BLOG: Face-to-Face with a Digital Human
"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."
We’re now well into the 21st century….who’d have thought… and the words artificial intelligence are buzzing like swarms of bees around the globe. It’s a time when we imagine and fear the unknown playing field of futurism and yearn for the next user experience that will win the match.
Going beyond the straightforward chatbots to the more complex voice-based generalists of the Alexa’s, Siri’s and Cortana’s of this world, we are now in a realm where serving up information is what we all need and want. But is interconnectivity of devices and the ability to answer endless questions where the AI juggernaut will park itself? Humans shouting demands to inanimate objects (albeit product designed to the max) seems an isolating place to be. So hold that thought and consider this: how about the more natural experience of engaging with a computer that features an intelligent human-like personality with a face that not only hears but sees you. A face that registers and responds to your own facial reactions. Gone is just the talking to, now you’re talking with a Soul Machines digital human. Surely this is a far better rapport than just bashing out questions on a keyboard or shouting at a device, especially if the digital human shows a sense of humour by throwing in curveballs to the conversation!
"The face is a picture of the mind with eyes as its interpreter"
Marcus Tullius Cicero
What's in a face?
Face-to-face communication is an intrinsic part of what makes us human. It establishes trust. If someone doesn’t look you in the eye when they talk to you it’s unnerving, irritating even and the conversation quickly loses value and meaning. Visual cues to what a person truly means are painted across the face adding the clarity of non-verbal communication to the conversation. Soul Machines digital humans have the ability to read whether someone is confused, happy or unsure through their expression’s and can then direct the conversation accordingly.
Face-to-face dialogue is vital to humans. In truth, we have “dedicated brain regions” for recognising faces and facial expressions. Face-to-face interaction also releases ‘the cuddle chemical’ - oxytocin which plays a key role in strong social bonding (especially between a mother and child). It also has the power to regulate fear and anxiety. Put your hand up if you’ve ever felt that surge of panic when you’ve spent eons of time filling out a crucial form online only to hit the next button and see the screen sucked into a cyberspace black hole? Imagine instead you’re talking to a digital human who not only projects a sense of calmness with their dulcet tones and facial engagement, but who can also fill out the form for you at the same time. How satisfying would that make your user experience?
Technology is now deeply embedded in our world but social media and smartphones with all their tweets, texts and transcripts has built a wall against face-to-face interaction brick by brick. If a more natural engagement can be sparked through human-like interaction with smart tech then surely the walls of faceless conversation will come tumbling down. For yes…. with the advent of digital humans the art of face-to-face conversation is back.
Viva la Revolution!
Further Interesting Reading: Neural synchronisation during face-to-face communication