Have you seen the movie “Her”? It’s a love story about a lonely writer (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with a highly intelligent (and seemingly human) operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson).
The movie touches on many current topics such as social media, a person’s right to his or her own sexual preferences and our tendency to become engulfed by the online world. It’s an interesting and quite beautiful movie – but it’s nothing more than science fiction.
Or is it?
Dear old Facebook has been working on a little something lately. It’s called “DeepFace” and it’s what will close the gap between humans and computers as far as facial recognition goes. You will be able to recognise the same person with a different set of images with an accuracy of 97.53%. The human brain is truly one of the great marvels in the history of existence, DeepFace comes close though – very close in fact. The new technology supposedly recognises people’s faces 97.25% of the time.
DeepFace uses knowledge from another Artificial Intelligence (AI) project in great part adopted by a key player in the digital business, namely Google. The Deep Learning technology mimics 80% of the brain, the neocortex, where thinking takes place. It does this by means of simulated neurons, capable of recognising patterns in huge amounts. DeepFace creates a 3D model of any given face, rotating it until it faces the screen. When this is done the Deep Learning makes a numerical description which can then be matched with similar descriptions.
So Facebook has pretty much gotten itself a brain of its own. But don’t expect to have your own, personal Scarlett Johansson living in your smartphone any time soon. The technology will be presented at the IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition in June this year. There is bound to be some tweaking done before the tech gets mistaken for an actual human being; but what will happen then?
Maybe we’ll have AI netizens mimicking real people, capable of recognising others, remembering past events, speaking and typing in a human-like way. Our entire lives could be filled with AI friends, making loneliness a thing of the past while creating completely new problems – net scammers would be given completely new opportunities, as would law enforcement. Or how about an entire online community made up of AI individuals? Artificial consumers creating an entirely new economy dealing in cryptocurrency – a new world taking the hassle out of our own. As for Her, it’s no coincidence that it seems to take place in a not so distant future. The day when we can speak to AI draws nearer and nearer.
The mind wanders when you realise how far technology has come – and we still have a long way to go before we can put our minds into a machine and become immortal (or maybe not?). Anyway, it’s comforting to know that technology is there, continuously providing us with new opportunities and solutions to our problems. Maybe we’ll all get to fall in love with artificial intelligence some day.
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Image courtesy: wonderwhizkid.com, wikipedia.org