Digital Clones: Can Your Digital Self Treat Your Depression? | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Digital Clones: Can Your Digital Self Treat Your Depression?

The latest AI technology enables the creation of alter egos by reading personal information such as social networking posts!

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Mogi’s digital clone (right) and Yonekura projected in the real world. The clone is also projected on the monitor in the back. Mogi’s 3D clone will be on display at the “You and Robot” exhibition starting March 18.

Talking to oneself–such a story from a science fiction movie is now a reality. The latest AI technology called “digital clone” can make it happen.

Developed by Orts, this service allows users to create a clone of themselves in the digital world. The greatest feature of this service is that not only the appearance and voice, but also the personality and thoughts of the clone can be reproduced without any discomfort. Mr. Goshi Yonekura, the company’s vice president in charge of development, explains this latest technology that is attracting attention from around the world (all statements in parentheses are by Mr. Yonekura).

What we focused on was to create a ‘dialogue engine that speaks in its own way. Instead of outputting words from a database according to a program, as with conventional AI, we created a “thinking model” that reads the thoughts of the individual, and then responds in line with the way the individual’s thoughts have been learned. This enabled us to reproduce a natural conversation that was true to oneself and without any errors.

The output method is not limited to speaking. If a theme is given, creative activities such as writing lyrics or composing music are possible. Of course, I am also creating a digital clone of myself. I have them attend meetings in my place, consult with me on technological development, and support me in many other ways.

The process of creating a digital clone is shown in the series of photos below. By loading a photo of a face or other image into the computing system, an outline of the face appears on the computer screen. At the same time, the “thought model” is formed by reading social networking posts, e-mail exchanges, and, in the case of celebrities, interview articles.

To date, the company has created more than 1,000 digital clones. There is also a clone of brain scientist Kenichiro Mogi, created as part of a TV program, and a clone of Toru Hashimoto, former governor of Osaka Prefecture.

The accuracy of the clones increases in proportion to the amount of data read. For example, a clone of Mr. Mogi required the reading of 10 books and a large amount of video data before the clone could reach a level where even Mr. Mogi would recognize the resemblance. Five years’ worth of textual and visual data, including SNS posts, would be ideal.

The digital clone project started in ’14 with his younger brother Chitaka, who is the president of “Ortsu”. Yonekura recalls with a smile, “There were many obstacles, but that was the fun part. The one that bothered me was the issue of ethics.

The most important thing is that the clone should never exceed his or her own abilities,” Yonekura said. For example, it is easy to make a clone play a musical instrument like a professional or do mathematics like a scholar. But if you do that, you end up creating a clone that can do everything, regardless of the person’s own abilities. Instead, it was difficult to preserve the irrationality and imperfection of the human personality. Instead of aiming for one perfect clone, it would be better to create 8 billion imperfect clones, which would enrich our intelligence. We continue our research with this belief.

Although initially intended for use in the business world, the company is now considering applications in unexpected genres, taking advantage of the ability to talk to oneself.

In the field of psychotherapy, it is expected to become a new treatment for depression. By creating a personality that is slightly more positive than the patient and having them interact with it, it can make them aware of positive aspects of themselves. We believe it can also be applied to language learning. I have always had difficulty with English, but when my clone spoke English, I could understand it easily.

His next goal is to reconstruct the digital clones in the real world through projection mapping. The day when we can meet our own clones in the real world may not be far off.

Production process of “Digital Clone

A clone created by loading approximately 500 video and image materials. It takes about one week for the outline to be formed on the display, although the time may vary depending on the number of materials.

From the March 25, 2022 issue of FRIDAY

  • PHOTO Courtesy of Ortz

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