Falling in love with the VIRTUAL ASSISTENT: just science fiction?

Sometimes I think that if I could tell my grandmother about the technological developments of recent years, she would grab her eyes and in Milanese dialect say something like: “You’re teasing me, girl“?

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Technology is becoming increasingly responsive to people’s needs, even managing to carry out small tasks that should usually be carried out by the people themselves.

The thought goes to “Siri,” the excellent voice assistance developed by Apple and available on iPhone. Siri is able to give you weather forecasts, publish a post on your Socials, give you directions to quickly reach your destination and more. All this with a simple voice command, so there’s no need for uncomfortable apps that should be used manually.

A real innovation, which has enjoyed, as expected, a considerable success, to the point of having been the subject of emulation even by Facebook, which had created the virtual assistant for Messager called “M.” However, it remained in an experimental phase and was used by a small group of Californians to test its functionality. As you know, “M” was a failed project, because Facebook noticed that the learning level of the group of ten thousand Californians was low, and 70% of the work that should have been done by the chatbot, was actually done by human operators. A situation that could withstand ten thousand testers, but that would become unmanageable with one and a half billion users of Messager.

Google has also tried to meet the demands of Android users by creating “Now,” a voice assistant that approaches Siri, but still does not equal it.
The voice assistant is designed to meet immediate practical needs, simplify people’s lives and speed up operations that would otherwise require the use of manual skills and a more significant waste of time.

Compared to other virtual assistants, Siri has something more: a sense of humor and learning ability. Through sophisticated AI, Siri responds to humor in tone and learns from experience, making it interactive and very interesting from a “human” perspective.
Given that the app is continually evolving, it is highly likely that in the future, it will be increasingly able to interact with its interlocutor, perhaps giving suggestions and information, thus becoming an essential part of his day.

In a fascinating article about Messier Avenir on Mela Morsicata, a scenario is outlined in which, in 2030, Siri could become the best friend of man, able also to satisfy emotional needs. For example, giving personal suggestions, inviting the interlocutor not to perform self-injurious actions or to do harm to others.
A travel companion, in short, that will have a male or female voice depending on how it is set.

In a film, in my opinion prophetic, entitled “Her” (by Spike Jonze) it is hypothesized that the virtual assistant could become so exciting, to make his interlocutor fall in love.

Is there really this risk?
Unfortunately, in my opinion, yes.

The problem is not so much that the vocal assistant is attractive, but how depressing is the human relationship, which could push some to stop confronting their peers to spend most of their time with the virtual assistant.
A real risk.

Even if the virtual assistant seems “human,” also if it looks impressive, even if it can amaze in its ability to be emotional support, it must be relegated to its rightful role, that of a robot.

Once again, the instrument should not be confused with the end, machines are instruments, and we dramatically realize this when we disconnect the current: they cease to exist.

Therefore, although disappointing, the human context is the only one that belongs to us, because even in difficulties, it allows us to develop a certain resilience, namely the ability to bend, to adapt to change, without succumbing or break for the worse.

Innamorarsi dell’Assistente Virtuale: solo fantascienza?

A volte penso che se potessi raccontare a mia nonna degli sviluppi tecnologici di questi ultimi anni, sgranerebbe gli occhi e in dialetto milanese mi direbbe qualcosa del tipo: “mi stai prendendo in giro, ragazza”?

La tecnologia si avvicina sempre di più alle esigenze delle persone, riuscendo addirittura a svolgere piccoli compiti che normalmente dovrebbero essere svolti personalmente.

Il pensiero va a “Siri”, la famosa assistenza vocale elaborata dalla Apple e disponibile sugli Iphone. Siri è in grado di darti le previsioni del tempo, di pubblicare un post sui tuoi Socials, di fornirti le indicazioni stradali per giungere velocemente alla meta desiderata, e molto altro. Tutto questo con un semplice comando vocale, quindi senza fare ricorso a scomode app che andrebbero usate manualmente.

Una vera e propria innovazione, che ha riscosso, come prevedibile, un enorme successo, al punto di essere stata oggetto di emulazione persino da Facebook, che aveva creato l’assistente virtuale per Messager chiamato “M”. Esso è rimasto però in una fase sperimentale, e usato da un ristretto gruppo di californiani per testarne le funzionalità. Come noto, “M” fu un progetto fallimentare, perché Facebook notò che il livello di apprendimento della comitiva di diecimila californiani era basso, e il 70% del lavoro che avrebbe dovuto essere svolto dal chatbot, veniva in realtà realizzato da operatori umani. Situazione che poteva reggere con diecimila testers, ma che sarebbe divenuta ingestibile col miliardo e mezzo di utilizzatori di Messager.

Anche Google ha cercato di soddisfare le richieste degli utenti di Android dando vita a “Now”, un’assistente vocale che si avvicina a Siri, ma che, ancora, non la eguaglia.

L’assistente vocale nasce per soddisfare delle esigenze pratiche immediate, semplifica la vita delle persone e velocizza le operazioni che richiederebbero, altrimenti, l’uso della manualità e una maggiore perdita di tempo.

Rispetto ad altri assistenti virtuali, Siri ha qualcosa in più: senso dell’humor e capacità di apprendimento.

Attraverso una AI sofisticata, Siri risponde a tono all’humor e impara dall’esperienza, il che la rende interattiva e molto interessante da un punto di vista “umano”.

Considerato che la app è in continua evoluzione, è altamente probabile che, in futuro, essa sarà sempre più in grado di interagire con il suo interlocutore, magari dando suggerimenti e informazioni, diventando così parte importante della sua giornata.

In un interessantissimo articolo con Messier Avenir su Mela Morsicata, si disegna uno scenario in cui, nel 2030, Siri potrebbe diventare il migliore amico dell’uomo, in grado anche di soddisfare esigenze emotive. Ad esempio, dando suggerimenti personali, invitando l’interlocutore a non compiere azioni autolesioniste o a non fare del male agli altri.

Un compagno di viaggio, insomma, che avrà voce maschile o femminile a seconda di come viene impostato.

In un film, a mio avviso profetico, dal titolo “Her” (di Spike Jonze) si ipotizza che l’assistente virtuale potrebbe diventare così tanto interessante, da far innamorare il suo interlocutore.

Esiste davvero questo rischio?

Purtroppo, a mio avviso,.

Il problema non deriva tanto dal fatto che l’assistente vocale sia interessante, ma da quanto deprimente sia il relazionarsi umano, che potrebbe spingere alcuni a smettere di confrontarsi coi propri simili per passare la maggior parte del proprio tempo con l’assistente virtuale.

Un rischio concreto.

Per quanto l’assistente virtuale sia “umana”, per quanto possa stupire nella sua capacità di essere di supporto emotivo, essa deve essere relegata nel ruolo che le spetta, quello di un robot.

Ancora una volta, lo strumento non va confuso col fine, le macchine sono strumenti e ce ne rendiamo drammaticamente conto quando stacchiamo la corrente: esse cessano di esistere.

Quindi, per quanto deludente, il contesto umano è l’unico che ci appartiene, perché anche nelle difficoltà, ci permette di sviluppare una certa resilienza, ovvero quella capacità di piegarsi, di adattarsi al cambiamento, senza per questo soccombere o cambiare in peggio.

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Lil Miquela: the influencer who doesn’t exist

For some years now, the term “influencer” has entered the universal language, identifying with it the person who, with his charisma, hijacked the choices of the masses regarding a specific sector.

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Among the most famous influencers, there are the fashion bloggers who, when they become trendy (we speak of thousands of “followers”), are able to make a difference and influence the choices of the masses.
Think of the now famous Chiara Ferragni who began her career when she was still at university (she studied law) and who, today, has a millionaire empire.
So far, it is not strange, they are people who are gifted and engaged in a particular area and who succeed in that area.
However, in addition to real influencers, i.e., flesh and blood people, there are also virtual ones, such as Lil Miquela.
This beautiful girl with regular features, fleshy lips, and hair sympathetically gathered in two ponytails has become, in a short time, a real celebrity on Instagram.
Lil Miquela is the Instagram account of Lil Souza, an American girl who, according to what she says about her profile, loves fashion and music. In fact, on her profile, she started in 2016 posting images of herself who wore clothes of famous brands such as Chanel, Supreme, Proenza Schouler, Vans and many others.

Recently she has also started singing, although her voice is clearly metallic (fake).
What is particularly interesting is that Lil Miquela doesn’t exist, she’s a computer created character, even if the images she posts are very realistic. The virtuality of the girl is evident, also if, at first, for many, there was the doubt that she was real.
Many people wonder about the reasons for Lil Souza’s success as an influencer, primarily because of her pronounced virtuality. Her posts reach millions of people and collect thousands of likes. An ambitious result for a real person, let alone an avatar.
Reflecting on the reasons for her success, I think its “strengths” are:

  • Beauty: Lil is a beautiful model, who does not age and does not get fat. Her face is very realistic and has a great expressiveness despite not being “real”;
  • It’s cheap: being virtual, the big brands only have to authorize the creator of the Avatar to use their creations, they are not forced to send real clothes with all the problems related to sizes;
  • She tells of her experiences as an ordinary girl, as if she were a teenager in the flesh writing. She is able to involve and generate discussions about her character and what fascinates her;

Indications say that Trevor McFedries & Sara Decou would be the creator of Lil Miquela and that the recent hacking of the Instagram account, apparently by another virtual character, Bermuda, would actually be a pretext by the same company to force Lil to reveal her virtuality.

The character who hacked Lil’s account is, in fact, as mentioned, Bermuda who demanded that the famous fashion blogger to publicly reveal her non-human nature to get her account back. As a result, Lil admitted that she was not human, but also that she had recently discovered it, and that she was very angry with the productive society for not revealing her digital identity to her first.
These are statements that make us smile, but which, it seems, create involvement and that aura of mystery that contributes to the success of Lil Miquela.

What do you think about a virtual influencer? Do you like the idea? Please let me know in a comment.

Lil Miquela, l’influencer che non esiste

E’ da qualche anno che il termine “influencer” è entrato nel linguaggio comune, identificando con esso la persona che, con il suo carisma, dirotta le scelte delle masse riguardo un certo settore.
Tra gli influencer più noti, vi sono i fashion bloggers che, quando diventano molto seguiti (si parla di migliaia di “followers”), sono in grado di fare la differenza e di condizionare le scelte delle masse.
Si pensi alla ormai famosissima Chiara Ferragni che ha iniziato la sua attività quando era ancora all’università (studiava giurisprudenza) e che, oggi, ha un impero milionario.
Fin qui, nulla di strano, si tratta di persone dotate e impegnate in un certo settore che riescono ad avere successo in quell’ambito.
Tuttavia, oltre a influencer reali, ovvero persone in carne e ossa, ne esistono anche di virtuali, come ad esempio Lil Miquela.
Questa splendida ragazza dai lineamenti regolari, le labbra carnose e i capelli simpaticamente raccolti in due codini è diventata, in poco tempo, una vera celebrità su Instagram.
Lil Miquela è l’account Instagram di Lil Souza, una ragazza americana che, secondo quanto racconta lei stessa sul suo profilo, ama la moda e la musica. Infatti, sul suo profilo, ha iniziato nel 2016 postando immagini di
lei stessa che indossava abiti di marche famose, come Chanel, Supreme, Proenza Schouler, Vans e molti altri.

Recentemente ha anche iniziato a cantare, nonostante la sua voce sia palesemente metallica (finta).
L’aspetto particolarmente interessante è che Lil Miquela non esiste, è un personaggio creato al computer, anche se le immagini da lei postate sono molto realistiche. La virtualità della ragazza è evidente, seppure, in un primo momento, per molti vi era il dubbio che fosse reale.
Sono in tanti a interrogarsi sulle ragioni del successo di Lil Souza come influencer, soprattutto a causa della sua virtualità marcatamente pronunciata. I suoi posts raggiungono milioni di persone e riscuotono migliaia di likes. Un risultato ambizioso per una persona in carne ed ossa, figuriamoci per un avatar.
Riflettendo sulle ragioni del suo successo, a mio avviso i suoi “punti di forza” sono:

  • La bellezza: Lil è una bellissima modella, che non invecchia e non ingrassa. Il suo volto è molto realistico e ha una grande espressività nonostante non sia “reale”;
  • E’ economica: essendo virtuale, le grandi marche devono solo autorizzare il creatore dell’Avatar all’uso delle proprie creazioni, non sono costretti a spedire abiti reali con tutti i problemi collegati alle taglie;
  • Racconta le sue esperienze come una ragazza normale, come se a scrivere fosse un’adolescente in carne e ossa. E’ capace di coinvolgere e generare discussioni attorno al suo personaggio e a quello che la appassiona;

Indiscrezioni dicono che Trevor McFedries & Sara Decou sarebbe la creatrice di Lil Miquela e che il recente hackeraggio dell’account Instagram, apparentemente avvenuto da parte di un altro personaggio virtuale, Bermuda, sarebbe in realtà un pretesto ad opera della medesima azienda per costringere Lil a svelare la sua virtualità.

Il personaggio che ha hackerato l’account di Lil è, infatti, come detto, Bermuda che ha preteso che la famosa fashion blogger rivelasse pubblicamente la sua natura non umana per riavere il suo account. In conseguenza di ciò Lil ha ammesso di non essere umana, ma anche di averlo scoperto di recente, e di essere molto arrabbiata con la società creatrice per non averle rivelato prima la sua identità digitale.
Si tratta di affermazioni che fanno sorridere, ma che, a quanto pare, creano coinvolgimento e quell’alone di mistero che contribuisce al successo di Lil Miquela.

Cosa ne pensi di una influencer virtuale? Ti piace l’idea? Fammelo sapere in un commento.
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SineSpace, the virtual reality that meets your needs

Oema in SineSpace

Fans of Virtual Reality and creation in an intuitive and comfortable virtual environment will love SineSpace, the virtual world created by Adam Frisby.
Adam is an expert on VR, having been very active on ActiveWorlds, Blaxxxun, Microsoft’s Virtual Worlds and Second Life.
In Second Life®, a familiar environment, he founded Azure Island to purchase private regions and Sine Wave Animations, giving life to the well-known dance animations that we have used and appreciated for years.
SineSpace is his first creation in the VR, a virtual world still in Beta version, but already trendy and used for the production of environments and original content.
A week ago I decided to explore SineSpace, having seen several captivating videos that showed a detailed and incredibly realistic world.
Who knows Second Life® will not find particularly challenging to understand how SineSpace works: just download the appropriate viewer, enter your credentials after registering for an account and access your region, offered free of charge by Sinespace to all registered users.
The first goal of SineSpace is to offer a completely free space: it is a region that you can customize through the creation tools I will talk about in a moment.
Another important goal is the customization of the Avatar: every detail of the face and body can be modified through slides, and the skin can be changed by choosing from the options offered within the same SineSpace Shop.
Let’s proceed with order!

Overview

Registering an Account

To register an account, you must go to the registration page.
Here is a valuable video tutorial that will guide you step by step in registering your first account on SineSpace.

Also handy is the video of Strawberry Singh that will pleasantly guide you to register your new Account.

If you intend to create within SineSpace, I suggest you join the Creators program, you can do it from the registration page.

Downloading the Viewer

After you have registered your account, it will be useful to download the viewer. It is not mandatory because you can access the virtual platform even using your browser (I, for example, use Chrome). However, you should definitely use the viewer to get the most out of your SineSpace.
Once again Berry’s video can help since also explains the phase of downloading and installing the appropriate Viewer.

How to walk, jump, fly, teleport and move the camera

A first problem you encounter when entering a virtual world that is unfamiliar to us is how to walk, jump, fly, visit different regions through teleportation and move the camera around.
Here’s the mystery!
How to walk, jump, fly, teleport and move the camera in SineSpace.
This precious page of the FAQs is of great help not only in understanding how to carry out the activities just mentioned but also in exploring other opportunities including buying and creating outfits, taking pictures, chatting, using voice chat, making payments, etc.
A page, therefore, to be saved in the favorites bar because you’ll consult it often.
In case you do not find an answer to the question you are looking for, you can contact SineSpace directly by opening a ticket.

Customize the look of your Avatar

Change dress

A first way to customize the look of your Avatar is by changing your clothes.

New clothes can be purchased directly from the SineSpace Shop using the Silver coin. In some cases, it is possible to buy only by spending the Golden currency, which can be purchased inside the virtual platform with the real currency. If you already know that you will not purchase Golden money to buy outfits in SineSpace, you can use the filter to find out which items you can only buy with Silver.

Changing the physical appearance

Customizing your Avatar is easy through the use of slides. The various parts of the body can be adapted to your needs and taste with great simplicity. Here there are no complicated mesh heads and bodies, just act on the sliders to appreciate the benefits of detailed customization of your appearance.

Virtual currency

Silver is the virtual currency of SineSpace through which you can buy items in the shop. Some of these items, however, can only be purchased through the Golden, currency exchangeable for real money. The payment methods accepted are many, including PayPal, credit card and phone credit from mobile.

Customize your home

Another immediate need you’ll encounter is to customize your home environment.
This section explains step by step how to proceed.

Create and sell

In SineSpace you can create your own objects and sell them in the shop.
Creation takes place in the Unity® Game Engine.

Conclusion

In this first introductory article, I only explored “the first steps” to SineSpace, as there is much to say and share. I just add that the realism that this virtual world offers is impressive and exciting, providing the best possible experience for photography lovers. SineSpace offers several valuable photo enhancement tools, all already integrated into the viewer (no need to buy anything specific).
SineSpace is VR friendly.

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Why Virtual Reality is good for the Art

Art and Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is an extraordinary way to involve people in any type of project. Music and art are no exception.
As far as music is concerned, the most illustrious example of virtual reality application is definitely Bjork. The Icelandic singer has confirmed her interest in new technologies with the video related to the song Notget, last track of the album Vulnicura.

The use of VR has also been a success in the arts. In fact, the Orwell Vr, a Milan company that deals with computer graphics and virtual reality, on the occasion of Klimt Experience, organized by Crossmedia Group, has developed KlimtVRExperience. It is a game-puzzle that the player, wearing Oculus glasses Samsung Gear VR, can complete by collecting objects in the virtual path within the frameworks.
It is an experience that allows the observer to immerse himself entirely in the art of Gustav Klimt and has had a remarkable success. Hosted by the deconsecrated church of Santo Stefano al Ponte in Florence and then by the Royal Palace of Caserta, it has reached an unexpected number of visitors. In particular, after only one month of opening, in December 2016, the exhibition had already reached 16,000 admissions.
The attractive aspect of this exhibition/experience was undoubtedly the involvement of the public who had to compose a puzzle game during the “visit” to the gallery, wearing the Oculus. This aspect was evident by comparing the Klimt Experience with other artistic events that used VR but did not involve the viewer as it happens in the “experience.”

Another exciting aspect is that, through VR, young people are more attracted to art galleries. A traditional art gallery mainly attracts a mature audience, VR involves young people making them entertain even in learning the art.
I think people are attracted to the VR used in the arts for three reasons. VR allows:

  • to hear
  • to see
  • to modify and/or interact with the surrounding environment.

The artistic exhibition no longer takes place following the traditional rules, that is, the artist exposes, and the visitor observes, but the visitor becomes an active part of the art exhibition which, more correctly, is defined as “experience.”
We think, for example, at The Renwick Gallery, an institution part of the Smithsonian in Washington D.C., which hosted an exhibition from 2015 to 2016 that took place on the screens of the observer’s mobile devices.

Moreover, from the artist’s side, he is no longer limited by the 2 dimensions, but his creativity is able to “embrace” the 3 dimensions, guaranteeing an expressiveness and freedom of creation never seen before.

The museum has launched an immersive app of 360-degree artistic virtual reality called “Renwick Gallery WONDER 360” which allowed the viewer to explore his exhibition entitled “WONDER” in 3D, involving nine contemporary artists. The names of the artists were Jennifer Angus, Chakaia Booker, Gabriel Dawe, Tara Donovan, Patrick Dougherty, Janet Echelman, John Grade, Maya Lin and Leo Villareal. They have created a specific site that hosted a virtual reality experience built with unusual materials, and that was accessible to any observer, even geographically distant.

Through VR the limits of space and time are exceeded, and anyone is able to enjoy a 3D artistic experience without any kind of difficulty.
Moreover, from the artist’s side, he is no longer limited by the 2 dimensions, but his creativity is able to “embrace” the 3 dimensions, guaranteeing an expressiveness and freedom of creation never seen before.
In conclusion, I believe that the reasons for the success of VR applied to art are essential both for the artist and the observer. A more significant creative space for the artist and direct artistic experience for the observer. These ingredients are and will be winners in attracting the masses to art galleries, while in the past the interest in art was the prerogative of a few.

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