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Star Labs, an innovation lab backed by Samsung, displayed its AI-powered lifeforms called Neons at CES in videos on giant TVs. At human scale, one is a yoga instructor who can help you perfect your downward-facing dog; another is a local news anchor who can deliver the news based on interests in your preferred language while a financial adviser Neon can help get your retirement plan in order.

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"The marketing rhetoric around the Neons is quite extreme at a time when AI generates lots of confusion and anxiety [with topics such as] humans replacing machines, AI ethics issues and deep fakes," said Thomas Husson, a principal analyst at Forrester Research. "But if they're able to successfully express emotions, they would help enhance interactions between consumers and brands, and more broadly humanize technology."

Despite Samsung's backing, Neon is not related to any Samsung products or its Bixby voice systems. A Star Labs spokesperson told CNN Business that Samsung knew few details about the concept ahead of its CES debut.

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Neon plans to launch later this year but has not yet landed on a business model. Mistry said a subscription service is a possibility and it's also working to secure business partnerships.

The idea of a "digital species" is undoubtedly controversial. Big names in tech, including Elon Musk and Bill Gates, have warned about the development of powerful artificial intelligence. Gates called AI both "promising and dangerous." These concerns typically revolve around what's known as artificial general intelligence, or AI that can, for the most part, do the things a human can do.

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"As demonstrated by Neon, we are still very far from a commercially ready AGI solution," principal analyst Lian Jye Su of ABI Research said. "The best AI nowadays are narrow [ones] that performs singular tasks very well, such as the camera AI in our smartphones, the defect inspection camera AI on an assembly line, and the facial recognition AI in payment terminals."

According to Su, we should "always question the intention and financial rationale behind attempts to make artificial general intelligence a reality."

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Other companies are developing AI that can better converse with us but without a human-like interface. Two years ago, Google showed off Duplex, which allows AI to make human-like phone calls, while Microsoft is growing its Cortana platform to be increasingly responsive.

Neon's concept also comes at a time when companies including Facebook (FB), Google (GOOG) and Amazon (AMZN) are working to gain back consumer trust after a series of data sharing scandals. In 2019, both Amazon and Apple were under fire for using third-party contractors to listen in and transcribe user requests made through their personal assistants. Putting a human-like AI in your home, one that learns your preferences for pizza, behaviors or finances, raises concerns about where intimate information could land.

"Our future can come without compromising our privacy," Mistry said. "And that is what we are designing -- an architecture [that makes sure] any interaction between you and your Neon or you and any Neon, no one has, including me, as a CEO of this company, access to that information."


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At this stage, a Neon remains a simulated human assistant that merely aims to give intelligent, human-like responses.

Neon life

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We can easily find out electronic devices when we look around us. However, why do we feel so strange and difficult about electronic components and principles? The designer have cooperated with the maker. As a result, Electronic Face Kit is created for various people to become familiar with electronic components.

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Electronic Face - Basic

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Electronic Face - Melody

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PRAG LAB Co.Ltd is a making laboratory of PRAG design studio based in Seoul, Korea.


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Light Barrier Third Edition, Concave mirrors, Projection, Scanning, 2016

The installations present a semi-material mode of existence, materializing objects from light. Light Barrier Third Edition is a new installment in this series that exploits the confusion and non-conformities at the boundary between materials and non-materials, reality and illusion, and existence and absence.

The 6-minute sequence employs the motif of the circle to travel through themes of birth, death, and rebirth, helping shift the audience into the new mode of existence. The artists use the circle often in their works to evoke the fundamentals of materials and the external connection between life and death.

The artists are interested in how impressionist painters were inspired by the introduction of photography to create 'viewer-less images'. The installation allows images to arise from the canvas, creating painting outside of perspective. It is a direct approach to the artists’ theme of ‘drawing in the air’.

In this edition, 8 architectural video projectors are split into 630 sub-projectors using a structure of concave mirrors designed by artificial nature. Each mirror and its backing structure are computationally generated to create a group that collaborates to form the single image in the air. By accurately calibrating each of the 16,000,000 pixels individually, light beams can be merged in the haze to draw in the air. 40 channels of audio are then used to build a sound field that helps to solidify the projected phenomena in the audience's mind.

The third edition of Light Barrier was commissioned by the Asia Culture Center in Gwangju. The technology is enabled by Rulr, an open source graphical toolkit for calibrating spatial devices, created by Kimchi and Chips.

Commissioned by Asian Cultural Centre, Gwangju , Engineering by Chung Youngjae, Studio Sungshin Sound design by Junghoon Pi , Videography by Kimchi and Chips Light Barrier Third Edition, Concave mirrors, Projection, Scanning, 2016

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Light Barrier Second Edition, Concave mirrors, Projection, Scanning, 2015

Videography with Florian Koah , Sound by Junghoon Pi ( / Junyoung Park , Photos by Hanneke Wetzer (c) 2015 and Kimchi and Chips.

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Light Barrier, Convex mirrors, Projection, Scanning, 2014

Additional images and video from Alexander Delovoy and Tom Higham.

Kimchi and Chips is a Seoul based art studio founded by Elliot Woods (UK) and Mimi Son (South Korea). The studio creates actions which superimpose material and immaterial modes of existence, suggesting new technical and artistic attitudes. These actions actualise fictional realities as physical experiences, often employing digital light and computation to manipulate physical space.

They formed in 2009 to combine the disciplines of code, form, material, concept and mechanism. Since then, they have created installations and dialogues which have been exhibited on four continents, developing natural interactions between people, nature and the possibilities of the digital network.

Kimchi and Chips

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