Building BabyX

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The company Soul Machines, based in Auckland, New Zealand, has a unique approach to creating virtual humans. Their hyper-realistic “BabyX” is not merely the result of advanced 3D digital rendering.

Rather, BabyX has been built layer by layer—brain with bloody eyeballs attached, full neural system, and so on. The brain itself is structured to mimic a human brain—possessing a basal ganglia, an amygdala, the thalamus, and so on. Taking a more granular view, the brain chemistry operates on the interaction of virtual serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine.

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Obviously, this is not real dopamine…not a real amygdala. But it’s the “next best thing.”

Indeed, BabyX seems remarkably lifelike, able to “learn” from previous experiences via the interaction of its simulated nervous system and brain. For example, here is how BabyX learned to play the piano, per a profile on Bloomberg:

What compels BabyX to hit the keys? Well, when one of her hands nudges against a piano key, it produces a sound that the software turns into a waveform and feeds into her biological simulation. The software then triggers a signal within BabyX’s auditory system, mimicking the hairs that would vibrate in a real baby’s cochlea. Separately, the system sets off virtual touch receptors in her fingers and releases a dose of digital dopamine in her simulated brain. “The first time this happens, it’s a huge novelty because the baby has not had this reaction before when it touched something,” Sagar says. “We are simulating the feeling of discovery. That changes the plasticity of the sensory motor neurons, which allows for learning to happen at that moment.

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Soul Machines, who claims they have built the first “virtual nervous system,” creates “digital humans” for companies to be used as personal assistants, customer service reps, and more. From their website:

Our emotionally intelligent Digital Humans are opening the doors to a new-era of human-style customer experience that can be utilized across a wide range of industries that are leading the way in this era of digital disruption – including Automotive, Financial Services & Banking, Healthcare, Media, Software and Technology.

And what will happen to all the human jobs these Digital Humans will replace? Those non-digital souls currently in the Automotive, Financial Services & Banking, Healthcare, Media, Software and Technology fields who might be reps, clerks, receptionists, personal assistants, and so on?

I’m sure it will all work itself out. If there’s one thing we know from modern Capitalism, is that there is a great deal of forethought and care placed in terms of the fate of the “little people.”

Let’s…go talk about the latest boneheaded thing Kanye did instead!

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