Fable Studio Introduces ‘Virtual Beings’ Ready to Converse With You
Virtual reality developer Fable Studio has introduced two new artificial intelligence-powered personalities capable of holding a conversation with a human in a video call. Charlie and Beck are what Fable calls ‘virtual beings,’ part of a growing number of interactive AIs that can imitate a human well enough to serve as pseudo-companions.
Fable Studio is best known for its Emmy-winning “Wolves in the Walls” project. That’s where the company’s first virtual being, Lucy, came from, The 8-year-old start of the Wolves in the Walls book and project, she’s since become an independent character that people can interact with, as opposed to being limited to 1988. For the new personalities, Fable Studio designed adults living in the present. Olympic athlete Beck is a Canadian who will be rowing at Tokyo next year, while Charlie is an introverted French musician and poet. She studies art history and lives in Paris. All of the AI characters rely on the Fable Wizard AI tool, designed by the Fable Studio to connect dialogue, voice, animation, and visuals into a seamless whole during the video call.
Demand to talk to the AI personalities is high enough for Fable Studio to set up a sign-up with a waitlist. The idea is to limit the number of people speaking to Beck or Charlie at any one time and monitor for when people are just trying to test how realistic the character is. To build the personalities, dialogue written by people at Fable is expanded with GPT-3 technology. The language model introduced this year by OpenAI, makes the AI more flexible and able to respond to questions and statements that may not relate to anything in the initial text. Microsoft nabbed an exclusive license for the model in September, but that doesn’t apply to the GPT-3 API that OpenAI launched in June. As with other AI, Beck and Charlie will learn from every conversation and become better at imitating human interaction through the prism of the personalities sketched out by their creators.
Developers are still exploring the best way of fleshing out the personality of an AI. The value of an AI with a personality is easy to imagine if it encourages people to interact with it more and feel comfortable conversing with the AI. The actual shape of the personality can be almost anything. When Russia’s Sberbank launched a voice assistant as part of its restructuring as a tech company, it set up three separate personalities for the AI. ‘Sber,’ ‘Joy,’ and ‘Athena’ each have a surprisingly detailed personality and background created by Sber, but the voices are the only things that differ as the personalities all can do the same tasks. Closer to Fable Studio’s vision is Xiaoice, a chatbot platform originally part of Microsoft before it spun out as an independent company. Used by more than 660 million, Xiaoiceis able to understand emotions and sentiment and even anticipate what users might say. The AI was modeled after a teenage girl and is enormously popular as a ‘virtual girlfriend’ in China. Limited to text alone as Xiaoice was, it could be even more popular if married to visual and voice services as well.