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We are living in a world where digital technology has turned into the so-called gold standard of life. Smart technology (read: artificial intelligence) is taking centre stage in our lives. The coronavirus pandemic has shown more than what it is cracked up to be: it has upended our real lives, and made it virtual. Virtually, everything is digital: wallet, payments, banking, you name it, it is there. Now, even babies will turn digital, if an AI expert is to be believed.
Come again? Is this the shape of things to come?
Yes, it is true. Infants could be entering a new domain: they will be no more flesh-and-blood beings.
In 50 years, digital babies will become common, says an expert on artificial intelligence.
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According to a report in a section of the Australian media, Catriona Campbell, one of the UK’s leading authorities in AI and emerging and disruptive technologies, made the prediction in a book published this week. In ‘AI by Design: A Plan For Living With Artificial Intelligence,’ she states that worries about overpopulation will prompt society to embrace metaverse-hosted digital babies. It is a demographic change she calls the “Tamagotchi Generation”, after the digital pet toy released in 1996.
“Virtual children may seem like a giant leap from where we are now,” she writes, “but within 50 years technology will have advanced to such an extent that babies... in the metaverse are indistinct from those in the real world.”
Campbell says technology such as high-tech gloves might reproduce the physical sensations of cuddling, feeding and playing with one’s offspring.
Campbell said that, through CGI (computer-generated imagery) and advanced machine learning, digital children will have photo-realistic faces and bodies, and that they will be able to recognise and respond to their “parents” using facial tracking and voice analysis. They will be capable of speech and simulated emotional responses encompassing a baby’s coo, a child’s giggle and a teenager’s backchat.
You can play with them but can you hug them, the way you would a real-life newborn? Will they be chubby and adorable, about which you are all chuffed up? Only time will tell.
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