AI humans will play an increased economic role

Visitors experience interactive digital avatars at the 2022 China International Trade in Services Fair (CIFTIS) held in Beijing on September 2. ZOU HONG/CHINA DAILY

Powered by technological advancements, avatars will provide various aids, company

Every Monday, an attractive young presenter named Xiao C appears in an online video program run by CCTV.com, a news site owned by China Media Group.

Dressed in a pink T-shirt with her hair tied in two buns, she broadcasts sporting events like soccer, basketball, volleyball, swimming, and athletics, while asking questions from the audience. She can even naturally interact with human sports commentators and talk about tactics during a soccer game.

Xiao C is a virtual replica of real-life female news anchors developed by Chinese tech giant Baidu Inc. She can imitate human facial expressions, body language and movements, and is nearly indistinguishable from a real person.

The Virtual Anchor offers insight into how a wider range of industries have begun to adopt AI-powered digital human models. New advances in technology have made virtual humans, who closely resemble real humans in appearance and behavior, increasingly visible in a wide range of industries such as broadcasting, retail, finance, entertainment, education, culture and tourism.

From digital financial advisors showcasing banks’ wealth management services to clients to virtual anchors providing live commentary in sign language for hearing-impaired viewers, digital humans are set to play a bigger role in people’s daily lives. , said industry experts.

The size of the virtual human market in China is expected to reach 270 billion yuan ($38.5 billion) by 2030, according to an industry report released by QbitAI, an industry services platform focused on AI and software. advanced technologies.

Revenue generated by virtual humans designed to be unique, such as virtual celebrities, is expected to reach 175 billion yuan in China by 2030, while that of service-oriented virtual humans is expected to exceed 95 billion yuan, according to the report.

Statistics from Qichacha, a data bank that tracks business registrations, showed that China now has more than 280,000 companies engaged in digital human-related activities, the compound annual growth rate of newly registered companies over the past of the last five years reaching nearly 60%.

Recently, Baidu launched two companionship-focused virtual beings, Lin Kaikai and Ye Youyou. Powered by Baidu’s Plato, an AI model for dialogue generation trained on more than 10 billion parameters collected from social media conversations in English and Chinese, the two digital humans are capable of seamless interaction. and human.

They can participate in conversations through text messages, voice messages and emojis. They can also offer personalized wake-up services and learn about their users’ preferences through increased chat and interaction frequency, Baidu said.

Given the fast and stressful pace of city life, digital avatar companions can relieve people’s anxiety and satisfy their desire for emotional connections. This has boosted the rise of digital human industry, said Li Shiyan, head of digital human and robotics section at Baidu.

“The application of advanced AI technologies will continue to reduce the cost of creating digital humans and greatly improve their interactions with real humans,” Li said.

Baidu launched its Xiling digital avatar platform in 2021, which provides a comprehensive set of services for creating and operating virtual hosts, virtual celebrities and virtual brand spokespersons for customers in the areas of broadcasting, television, internet, finance and retail, enabling more industries to use virtual humans.

Additionally, using Xiling’s intelligent dialogue tools, creators can quickly customize a digital human’s conversational ability, allowing them to adapt and learn over time.

“With the breakthroughs in AI-based algorithms, the production cost of digital humans will be reduced by 10 to 100 times, and the production period will also be shortened from several months to just hours,” Yuan said. Foyu, vice president of Baidu, said in a previous interview. These expected developments will result in wide-scale application of digital humans in a variety of industries, she said.

Baidu worked with Shanghai Pudong Development Bank, China Everbright Bank and China Unicom to launch service-oriented digital humans to improve operational efficiency and reduce labor costs. Digital humans were used for customer service, document review, internal training and sales at Shanghai Pudong Development Bank.

Officials have high hopes for the market as Beijing released an action plan in August that bolsters innovative development of the digital human sector. The scale of virtual human industry in Beijing is expected to exceed 50 billion yuan by 2025.

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