Samsung calls them Neons. Samsung says Neons are straight out of the future. Neons may well be the future, if Samsung’s initial bout of teasers are anything to go by. But unless Samsung drops more information, which it is expected to in the next few days at the ongoing CES 2020, Neons will remain more hype than substance.
That hype also carries with it a pinch of concern. Let me explain. Neons are supposed to be “artificial humans,” you know the kind of stuff sci-fi movies have long conjured. And many of these artificial humans have had a history of turning against us humans – taking our jobs, taking our lives, ruling the earth, and what have you. You know the drill.
So, when STAR Labs CEO Pranav Mistry begins his case (for these artificial humans) with the statement, “there are millions of species on our planet and we hope to add one more,” you’re bound to be both awed and scared at the same time. Especially when the Samsung subsidiary isn’t telling “enough” about what it’s up to inside its closed quarters. Forgive me for being a little sceptic.
Flying to CES tomorrow, and the code is finally working :) Ready to demo CORE R3. It can now autonomously create new expressions, new movements, new dialog (even in Hindi), completely different from the original captured data. pic.twitter.com/EPAJJrLyjd— Pranav Mistry (@pranavmistry) January 5, 2020
For, this is how it usually begins. Samsung describes Neons as “computationally generated” avatars seemingly capable of conversing with you – the master? - on a level that’s said to be both “emotional and intelligent.” Their behavior may have been modelled after real humans, but Samsung says Neons will display whole new expressions, dialogs, and emotion – what, how, why, we don’t know yet - with latency of less than a few milliseconds. That last bit will be the decisive factor. Samsung would want Neons to be able to respond instantaneously.
Neons don’t seem very scary at this point of time – or until the time Samsung reveals more. At best, they seem like Siri with a face, maybe? Or Bixby? I hope it’s not Bixby. The underlying tech is called Core R3 and while we still don’t know much about it, Samsung says it’s “fundamentally different from deepfake or other facial reanimation techniques.”
It’s what these Neons will be able to do in the future that will have consequences though. “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,” says Samsung. So, go figure. And again, forgive me for being a little sceptic.