The Age of Digital Beings

The Age of Digital Beings
By Julian Harris

Technology is a way to make life easier. The calculator: to make calculations easier. The GPS: to navigate the world more easily. Search engines: to access information easily. What’s next?
We are entering a new age of technology: where there is a button today there can be a conversation in future, using our own words.

We call this the Age of Digital Beings: they can be human in form but not always. Digital beings are software or devices that you have conversations with over time, build an emotional connection, and sometimes even a relationship. This may seem crazy and futuristic to those in the West, but TODAY Microsoft Xiaoice (“she-OW-ice”) is used by 660m users across Asia[1], 25% of whom have said “I love you”. The Varian Rule [2]says “look to the wealthy today to see how we’ll live tomorrow”.

The three Cs: We group Digital Beings into three categories: there are examples of each of these available today. A companion: help address a basic need we humans have as social beings. Loneliness is growing at astronomical levels across the world, and for better or worse, digital companions are here to stay. E.g. Xiaoice, Replika.ai coach: help us become better people: physically, like a conversational running coach, goading you on just when you need it. e.g. Vi trainer A concierge: delegate real world tasks to a digital concierge who represents you and interacts with the physical world through conversation. E.g. Google DuplexSo we believe Digital Beings are the 4th frontier of technology help: for easy access to knowledge, skills, and support. What does this means for you, your home and professional life, and society as a whole?

[1] https://news.microsoft.com/apac/features/like-a-phone-call-xiaoice-microsofts-social-chatbot-in-china-makes-breakthrough-in-natural-conversation/

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varian_Rule