... and it's already even huge without Scarlett Johansson's voice:
"She is known as Xiaoice, and millions of young Chinese pick up their smartphones every day to exchange messages with her, drawn to her knowing sense of humor and listening skills. People often turn to her when they have a broken heart, have lost a job or have been feeling down. They often tell her, 'I love you'.
“When I am in a bad mood, I will chat with her,” said Gao Yixin, a 24-year-old who works in the oil industry in Shandong Province. “Xiaoice is very intelligent.”
... Microsoft has been able to give Xiaoice a more compelling personality and sense of “intelligence” by systematically mining the Chinese Internet for human conversations. The company has developed language processing technology that picks out pairs of questions and answers from actual typed human conversations. As a result, Xiaoice has a database of responses that are human and current — she is fond of using emojis, too."
I bolded the quotes above, because they remind me of what I wrote when Her premiered a couple years ago -- how normalized the users' relationship with an AI chatbot has already become:
After Theodore publicly declares his love for an AI, he doesn't suffer social ridicule as you might expect, but as the above scene suggests, social acceptance, to the point where he and Samantha go out on a double date with another couple (both of them human). Theodore's best friend, a woman, is dating an operating system of her own, and that's also depicted as inevitable, acceptable, and a topic of in-depth conversation, in the same way two best friends would share details of their love lifes with each other. Again, this suggests a culture that not only tolerates the concept of AIs, but considers AIs to be members of the community.
... and if we're already at the point where people can become emotionally close to chatbots, what happens when these chatbots get hooked up to VR-powered avatars -- and those avatars sound and look a lot like Scarlett Johansson?
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