Neon, announced by Samsung with a bit of secrecy recently, had a lot of experts speculating about what the technology could be. At CES 2020, late on Monday, 6th January, the company unveiled what Neon was, and it wasn’t what most had expected. The hype surrounding the technology had built Neon up to be a next-generation AI assistant, similar to Siri and Google Assistant. Now, however, we know that Neon is a computationally-created AI that thinks and operates like a human being.
Not a Virtual Assistant At All
Neons are not anything like virtual assistants. They can’t tell you the time or the weather where you’re at. Samsung states that Neons are virtual beings, capable of emotion, and able to learn from their experiences. These virtual beings are designed to have conversations and behave just like regular human beings. They can be trained to be more “human” and perform tasks that require a more “human” touch. Samsung states that each Neon is a unique being with its own quirks and personality.
Science Fiction Come True
Samsung has stated that they expect Neons to learn eventually, and evolve, forming memories and behaviors based on their interactions with other humans. The question of whether they are TOO realistic does surface. Samsung intended that Neons become companions for people. Still, the emotional attachment to a non-human being is something many science fiction writers have covered in the past – some of them leading to disastrous results.
There is also the concern of “flirting with the uncanny valley.” The term “uncanny valley” describes the feeling of disgust that a human being gets when interacting with a non-human entity that is almost (but not quite) human. If Neons start scaring humans, then it might be the complete opposite of what Samsung intended. The Neons shown at CES 2020 can form their own expressions using computer-generated faces. Even so, these demos still lack the functionality for learning, memory, emotions, and intelligence, which comes from a different component of the Neon called Spectra. As of date, Spectra is still under development. It may be a while before these almost-humans make their way off the drawing board and into the real world.