Virtual characters are a hype of recent years. Meaning we draw a virtual John and he will broadcast in our corporate blog better than the ever busy CEO who can never find the time to film some stories. It sounds somewhat weird to me, but someone believed, – there have been lots of attempts, articles, and money spent. What they showcase as their success is, for example, a couple of Korean accou8nts with 100 thousand subscribers, – not even at the bottom of real influencers’ pyramid.
At that, everything is technically ready. Readily available neural networks generate convincing texts sufficient for meaningful correspondence on social media. The mimics can also be imitated – to the point where you can’t tell the difference from the real one, even if you look hard. The only problem with digital avatars is their pointlessness. Human subscribers don’t want to follow a blogging bot and won’t trust it as much as they would trust a human.
Inworld AI, the American startup of the day, is testing a niche where the technology can find its place – games. Virtual characters have been in use there since the 90s – it is a perfectly standard part of the gaming world. The player is a detective who comes up to a programmed witness and asks: ‘where did the criminal run?’ ‘To the left,’ – answers the NPC. And if it starts communicating not with a set of preprogrammed phrases but with a normal human language and gestures, – the game will become apparently better, it’s a real benefit. The game studio can even pay for implementing such a technology.
The startup brought in USD 12.5M of investment in March’s round. AS far as I understand, there are no real games with Inworld characters.
Alexander made his career in Russian internet companies including Mail.Ru, Rambler, RBC. From 2016 to 2018 he was Chief Strategy and Analytics officer in Mail.Ru Group. In this position, he worked on M&A, investments, and new project launches. In 2018 he became Deputy CEO in Citymobil, a Russian Uber-like company that was invested by Mail.Ru Group and Sberbank (the biggest Russian bank), then he left the company to launch his own projects. Now Alexander is a co-founder of United Investors – the platform for co-investments in Russian early-stage startups. His blog #startupoftheday (#стартапдня) is one of the most popular blogs about startups in Russia.