Samsung Reveals Neon Artificial Human Avatars To Serve As Lifelike Chatbots

STAR Labs Neon Chatbots
Just a few days prior to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Samsung teased the creation of an artificial human, and it had our minds racing at the possibilities. Turns out the it is not quite what we thought. Samsung subsidiary STAR Labs lifted the curtain on Project NEON, which is essentially a set of digital avatars for glorified chatbots.

To be fair, that is soft of an oversimplification. At least, I think it is. In no uncertain terms, STAR Labs says NEON is "not an assistant" like Siri or Alexa, and "not an interface to the internet." It is also "not a music player," in case anyone is confused about that. Simply put, STAR Labs refers to NEON as "a friend," albeit a virtual one.

"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," STAR Labs explains.

Thankfully, it does not sound like they have to be fed or otherwise attended to in order to maintain existence, unlike those Tamagotchi pets from the days of old (anyone remember those?). Nevertheless, the exact nature of NEON is not entirely clear from the press release.

"NEON is like a new kind of life," says STAR Labs CEO Pranav Mistry, "There are millions of species on our planet and we hope to add one more. NEONs will be our friends, collaborators, and companions, continually learning, evolving, and forming memories from their interactions."

This is why I liken them to glorified chatbots, though there is some advanced technology taking place with these...virtual things? The technology platform that underpins NEON is called CORE R3, with R3 standing for Reality, Realtime, and Responsive. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are both at play here, and over time, these chatbots learn more about us and grow, in a sense. They are "extensively trained" to behave and interact with flesh and blood humans in realistic fashion.

So, Project NEON is not quite what we anticipated, and at the same time, it's still not crystal clear what the heck it is for or what the endgame is for Samsung and STAR Labs. I guess we'll find out in due time.

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