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MIT Technology Review: A digital human could be your next favorite celebrity

According to

Celebrity, Simon Gong—also known as Gong Joon—released a new music video in June 2022, garnering 15 million views on the country’s Twitter-like microblogging site Weibo. But the incident also stood out for a different reason—one that only eagle-eyed fans would have seen. The singer in the video was not Gong himself, but a digital replica created by Baidu, a “digital human” powered by artificial intelligence (AI). Similarly, the lyrics and melody were generated by AI, marking the recording as China’s first AI-generated content music video.

Deloitte Digital defines humans as AI-powered virtual beings that can produce the full range of human bodies. In recent years, businesses focused on providing services around the clock, as well as the media and entertainment industries, are increasingly adopting this emerging technology, aiming to capture a growing market. And as digital humans increasingly populate other sectors such as retail, healthcare and finance, Emergen Research estimates the global market for digital humans to grow from $10 billion in 2020 to about $530 billion in 2030.

A different kind of digital

Baidu’s digital celebrity debut may not seem like much at first, as the concept of “virtual idols” has been around for years. For example, US Virtual Influencer Lil Miquela has been appearing alongside real human celebrities in online commercials and TV commercials since 2016 with more than three million Instagram followers. However, something is different about the virtual Chinese star: a digital human with a never-before-seen ability to hear, speak, and interact with real humans. And the digital duties of gong are not limited to singing.

On the latest update to China’s leading search-plus-feed app, Baidu App, gong appears on users’ phones, helping with searches and queries using the model-actor’s real voice. Since this interactive search experience was launched in 2021, it has increased the number of voice search queries on the Baidu app by 18.2%.

Baidu AI Cloud first began developing a digital worker in 2019 in collaboration with Shanghai Pudong Development (SPD) Bank. Thereafter, he focused his efforts on building a digital financial advisor to provide a service equivalent to a human bank representative when real-life employees were unavailable.

Today, SPD Bank says that over 460,000 customers rely on digital humans for banking services and portfolio management every month. “Access to digital humans outside regular business hours allows SPD Bank to provide 24/7 customer service at low cost and high efficiency,” says a representative of the bank.

Recently, a Baidu-produced virtual anchor provided live sign language commentary at the 2022 Beijing Winter Games for a hearing impaired audience. In addition to looking like a real person, the avatar was empowered with speech recognition and sign-language interpretation capabilities to ensure rapid and highly accurate input and output.

According to the World Health Organization, with approximately 430 million people worldwide experiencing “disabled” hearing loss, this technology could be used to enhance their ability to access a wider range of content.

Full information available this link: A digital human could be your next favorite celebrity—or financial advisor