The market for digital clones is booming –

The market for hyper-realistic digital avatars, such as deepfakes, is of growing interest to companies, because this technology can drastically reduce the cost of producing certain advertising videos. But it is especially in the metaverse that the progress will be most visible.

soul machines, Synthesis Where hour one, these companies are at the forefront of a burgeoning technology: digital, hyper-realistic humans talking to consumers or viewers. The sector is booming. Investors are not mistaken. In recent months, the new market leaders have raised 200 million francs.

We already knew the deepfake, these very realistic fake videos, made using artificial intelligence, which make it possible to make anyone say anything for the purpose of disinformation or nuisance. This technology also has an authorized shutter.

We are talking here about digital avatars created for companies. Because traditional advertising spots are often expensive to produce. You need equipment, experience and actors. But now, thanks to these techniques based on the deep learning (deep learning), they can automatically transform, in a single click, a text into a video.

Digital star doubles

A actor thus sold his virtual double. Like a puppet, it recites your words credibly. It’s photorealistic. You hardly see the difference with a real actor. Among the first to use this technology was the Berlitz language school. Here, the avatar teaches you how to pronounce a sentence. A huge advantage, since he speaks all languages ​​perfectly.

In the same style, the former football star David Beckham shot a video to fight against malaria. Thanks to the algorithms that allow to modify the movements of the face, in a single take, he speaks perfectly nine languages.

There is therefore an economic interest for companies. These virtual actors make it possible to lower production costs and also open the way to new revenues. An example: the Dreamworks studio and the Cameo company offer you to buy a personalized video of their hero Baby Boss, with the synthesized voice of Alec Baldwin. It’s all in the machine. The production of this video costs them almost nothing.

Talk with robots

But now big brands want to go further with human-like artificial intelligences that speak directly with customers. A kind of chatbot 2.0.

Nestlé, for its Toll House brand, offers to discuss with a virtual cooker. It helps you prepare your cookies. In its latest demo, Soul Machine features an astrologer delivering a bespoke horoscope to you.

And this is only the beginning, since now developers are preparing for the arrival of customers in the permanent digital world: the metaverse. These digital human avatars will be able to evolve autonomously, interact and respond to users. Anyway, that’s the promise. For example, they can be found as sellers in virtual stores. And they could take on the features of celebrities.

But before that, legal and ethical questions will have to be settled. Will we be able to revive the dead or make them work? What will happen to our own image or voice in this digital eternity? What status for this digital workforce? We expect a first decision from the European Parliament by the summer.

Pascal Wassmer

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