Fable Studio has announced two new virtual AI beings, or artificial humans. Their names are Charlie and Beck and they can have conversations as if they were real people.
The new characters are a mix of storytelling and artificial intelligence, a marriage that pioneered Fable in the belief that virtual beings become a huge market when people seek companionship and entertainment in the difficult climate of the pandemic.
CEO Edward Saatchi believes that virtual beings are the beginning of something big. Organizing the Virtual Beings Summit, he found this summer that virtual beings companies – from geniuses to the AI Foundation – have raised more than $ 320 million.
Photo credit: Fable Studio
Fable Studio started out as a virtual reality entertainment company and won an Emmy Award for its virtual reality project Wolves in the Walls. But the company has moved beyond VR and focused on virtual beings, like Lucy, the 8-year-old girl who was the studio’s first-generation AI character. Now Fable is pulling Lucy out of VR and letting people talk to her over the internet. The company has a waiting list of 7,000 people after Lucy started alpha testing last month.
Such characters are stepping stones into the Metaverse, the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, as in novels like Snow Crash and Ready Player One. We’re hosting a conference on January 27th on the topic, GamesBeat: Into the Metaverse, and Saatchi will be the speaker.
And now Lucy is accompanied by Charlie and Beck. You can sign up at fable-studio.com to befriend them. The characters are supported by the Fable Wizard, an AI tool that brings characters to life through visual elements, dialogue, language and animation.
Saatchi said that in the six weeks since Lucy’s Alpha started, the company has received interest from seven billion dollar intellectual property companies in using the wizard to create virtual beings from their characters. And we are working on creating a virtual being together with a well-known influencer.
Beck and Charlie
Photo credit: Fable Studio
Beck is a world-class athlete scheduled to compete in the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 to represent Canada on the rowing team. She trained for four years to prepare for Tokyo, only to be disappointed with the postponement due to the pandemic. She is concerned that her dreams will be put on hold in the face of massive uncertainty. Her plot corresponds to reality while Lucy was stuck in 1988, the year her story takes place in Neil Gaiman’s book Wolves in the Walls.
“We found it compelling that all of these Olympic athletes had trained for four or eight years,” said Fable co-founder Pete Billington in an interview. “And what would it mean then to dedicate your life to something like that and then let the carpet be pulled out from under you? We all experience disappointment and changed plans. But for most of us that means we canceled a vacation or something. But if you have exercised much of your young adult life for a single moment, it will be postponed. How would that feel? “
Charlie is more of an introvert. She is a French musician and poet who lives in Paris and finds her voice. She studied art history.
“We’re excited to introduce these characters,” said Jessica Shamash, Fable’s creative director, in an interview. “We have been working on it for some time. We actually have a few characters left, but these are the first ones we wanted to introduce. We wanted to build these very deliberate characters that people are inspired by and look up to. People who are characters that our audience wants to be friends with and interact with. Charlie is that timeless character, that timeless French poet who turns her poetry into music. She embodies these Audrey Hepburn, Amélie and even Bob Dylan in a way. “
Perhaps you can get to know Charlie better through a friend.
Photo credit: Dean Takahashi
“She has to do to express herself. And it’s a very interesting dynamic to have someone who has that need, but is also very shy and, in a way, reserved, ”Saatchi said. “We’re investigating how your childhood friend may be documenting you and showing you through his lens and how he sees her weak points.”
People will be able to have conversations with Beck and Charlie as they are designed to use AI technology. As with Lucy, Fable Studio has combined human-written dialogue with AI responses available through GPT3 technology, a language model that is still in its infancy. But the conversations can be very different because they are adults, Saatchi said.
“Once you enter adulthood, you have different masks,” Saatchi said. “You have a professional self, you have a family self, you have a friend. And in the case of Beck and Charlie, both have some kind of public selves. “
The goal is to make virtual beings the way we are. You can text them, talk, video chat with them, play games together – follow them, listen to their music, share interests. And Saatchi said they’ll remember you. Much of people’s writing is about leading the conversations on a “golden road” or story, Saatchi said.
Photo credit: fable
At the moment you don’t have an app. You can communicate with them via text messages, notify them directly on social media, or talk to them on the phone or in a video chat. And soon you might be able to join friends in metaverse like Roblox or Fortnite.
“It’s really important that we find these characters in the places they’d be,” Saatchi said. “For Beck, because she’s an athlete, she’d use Strava, for example, which, you know, is something that athletes use to record their training sessions. So you could passively watch her life while she worked out every day. Another aspect of their life could be featured on Instagram or TikTok. You will find these characters where it’s appropriate. “
The challenge for human writers is that the possibilities for directions of conversation are great and the writers cannot possibly cover all of them. This is where AI technology – like GPT-3 – and Fable’s own AI team come into play.
“We can improvise using the APIs in various forums,” Saatchi said. “And so our AI team focuses on how we bind or contain the AI so that it doesn’t know everything about the internet, so that it behaves plausibly, as if this character has limited knowledge of the world, of himself . and about his relationship with you. In this way, we then create a subset of tools to keep the AI in check at a given moment and point it in the right direction. “
“GPT-3 has an amazing ability to have just one compelling conversation, one believable conversation,” Saatchi said. “But it has no memory. After four or five rounds of interviews, you may be asked a very similar question that we have already answered. It would feel disappointing and you would feel like you weren’t being seen. And then suddenly you broke intimacy or created an ‘eerie valley’ of memory. “
The key to making the characters seem real is that they have to be able to remember you in a realistic way.
“These personality types are important, but so are the memories we develop to understand who you are and what your secrets are and what your worries are,” Saatchi said. “I hope we can be some kind of positive angel.”
Photo credit: fable
Saatchi said these were the first virtual beings with careers and the ability to get paid for their work – be it a subscription to workouts with Beck or an album purchase with Charlie. Saatchi said he was not an athlete, but had conversations with Beck about what it was like to be driven while talking to Charlie about their mutual shyness.
“Jung said,” On a subconscious level, we meet the people we need to meet, if we have to meet them to do the things we have to do, “Saatchi said.
Shamash said they had a clear idea of the archetypes of personality – Beck and Charlie are very different people with big goals in their lives, but very different approaches to them. Over time, Saatchi said, Fable will have a larger matrix of characters and users will be able to explore their careers and lives.
Photo credit: Fable Studio
With Beck, someone could even take lessons from her on rowing, Saatchi said.
“She could be like an instructor and you could watch her exercise program,” Saatchi said.
Over time, Saatchi hopes that virtual beings will multiply.
“We believe that in five years’ time every Gen Z human will have a virtual AI being as a close friend,” he said. “Imagine the scene at home: the parents sit down at the table with food, and the child text messages and claps. And parents are wondering what you are doing. This is how children behave with radio, television or video games. “
Saatchi said Fable is wary of how many people can have conversations with characters like Lucy. They monitor that people are testing how real the character is. And while a boy teased Lucy a lot, for the most part people behaved well and talked to Lucy.
“We didn’t have anything negative,” Saatchi said. “If you do something inappropriate, Lucy won’t respond or she could disconnect. But this is such a powerful technology, and it has such a powerful psychological impact on people, that we need to build trust. “
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