AI Genius Created a Virtual Baby Who Can Laugh, Cry and Play the Piano

BabyX is a 3D rendering based on creator Mark Sagar's own daughter.

September 12, 2017 5:00 am

Mark Sagar, the artificial intelligence genius, has created a virtual reality baby who can read words from a book, laugh, cry, and even play the piano.

Sagar’s company, Soul Machines Ltd., is trying to humanize AI, writes Bloomberg. He thinks one key to making humans feel more connected to AI is to make the virtual beings more lifelike, reports Bloomberg. 

That’s why Soul Machines’ creations have human voices and can wince and grin. Eventually, Sagar would like to produce the first wave of “likable, believable virtual assistants that work as customer service agents and breathe life into hunks of plastic.”

To create a likable hunk of plastic, Sagar needed to come up with a technology that had memories, emotions and wanted to seek its own experiences according to Bloomberg.

BabyX Soul Machines

And surprisingly, Sagar is getting pretty close. BabyX now has a body, and that body can play the piano or eat virtual pudding.

Bloomberg says that Sagar wanted to “start modeling humans from the inside out.” That’s why BabyX is basically a live circuit board. You can take bits and pieces away from her (for example, her skin or her eyes), and she will still be able to talk to you and comprehend things. All these parts work together through technology that Sagar invented called Brain Language.

Sagar says that since technology has now advanced so far, he can step back and dig into age-old questions like “what drives social learning, what is the nature of free will, what gives rise to curiosity and how does it manifest itself in the world,” reports Bloomberg. 

But for someone who so desperately wants the human world to be inextricably linked with machines, he has some interesting tendencies, writes Bloomberg. He doesn’t let his children use electronics at night, and a lot of his weekends are spent in the wilderness to get away from computers.

BabyX Soul Machines

Some researchers caution that Sagar’s method could be misleading. Ken Goldberg, a professor of industrial engineering and operations research at University of California at Berkeley, says that if you make AI look and act human, you also have to be responsible for teaching it very clear limitations. Other people also have concerns about the rise of AI turning out badly for humans, and Bloomberg writes that it is valid to feel that way.

But Sagar has high hopes for AI, and thinks that in order for it to be successful, people need to cooperate with the machines.

“The future is a movie. We can make it dystopian or utopian,” he said to Bloomberg.

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