“Creating a human-like AI and a fun AI is our goal.”
Artificial Intelligence (AI) research is different at Smilegate. Many game developers are diving into AI research, but most of them limit the role of their AI to their games. These companies utilize AI for more effective game operation and the development of in-game content. But Smilegate is developing an AI that can relate to human emotions, such as joy and sadness. Their goal is to develop an AI that can be a form of entertainment in itself.
Smilegate officially opened its AI Center back in 2020, while the director of the AI Center, Woo-jin Han, has been leading AI research at Smilegate since 2019. The AI Center has been developing technology based on its mission statement of ‘Human-like AI, fun AI’ since the day it was founded.
Director of Smilegate AI Center Woo-jin Han
Director Han stated, “We strive to develop a friend-like AI rather than just a simple machine or robot and we are working on developing technology to emulate personal memories, emotional states, and speech patterns.” He added, “Our goal is to develop technology where our AI interacts naturally based on emotions, and to reflect such information in its responses and voice.”
One of the most well-known products from the AI Center is the virtual human Han YuA. She made her debut as a singer in 2019 and signed an exclusive contract with a subsidiary of YG Entertainment. She also works as a model and author, and in other areas, as she continues to lead the way in the virtual human industry. The reason that Han YuA was able to take charge is due to her more human-like features compared to other virtual humans. These are based on the speech recognition, voice recognition and generation technology developed by the AI Center.
Director Han stated, “Our long-term goal is to create a customized AI that comes with specific knowledge, individuality, and characteristics rather than a general AI equipped with characteristics shared by many people.” He continued, “And the various technologies developed along the path towards our long-term goal are already partially implemented in the characters and chatbots of Smilegate.”
Director Han thinks that the development of AI will allow both humans and NPCs (non-player characters) to co-exist in virtual spaces in the near future. And to create a life that is similar to real-life in a virtual space, it is essential for the NPCs be more human. To achieve this, AI needs to learn to understand human emotions, and this is the reason that Smilegate is heavily invested in this field of research.
Han YuA, a virtual human developed by Smilegate
Director Han stated, “We can create products that offer even more value if our AI relates to various emotions such as human joy and sadness and provides details based on such connections rather than simply providing accurate responses.” He added, “When we think of next-gen entertainment for future generations, a smart and emotional AI would be one of the key forms.”
Meanwhile, the Smilegate AI Center is working not only to secure the AI technology, but also to plan the services that will apply the technology. AI technology requires complex work to be connected with services. Thus the Smilegate AI Center requires a more diverse personnel composition compared to other general AI research organizations. At the Smilegate AI Center, researchers with backgrounds in psychology and the humanities work together to conduct a variety of studies.
The Smilegate AI Center has also engaged in developing talent in the field of AI research. Director Han stated, “We are currently building a cooperative system involving both academia and startups through investments.” He added, “We are developing talent in the field of AI research through various forms of cooperation, such as with the Department of Artificial Intelligence of the Graduate School of Sogang University, as well as the Smilegate track and research center.”
※ Article source: The Asia Business Day “[AI Revolution] (34) Smilegate: Human Emotions in AI” (May 16, 2023)
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