The creation of the metaverse is not something trivial as it includes many edges in different sectors, such as technological, economic or social. In this article, with collaboration of my colleague Miquel Roig, expert in artificial intelligence and Head of Data Analysis in Belobaba, we will discuss “Artificial intelligence and its role in the Metaverse“.
What is AI?
Artificial intelligence or AI is a branch of computer science that deals with the creation and management of technology. In a broad and simple way it is a technology that can learn to make decisions and perform tasks on behalf of people.
AI is a broad term that encompasses a wide variety of technologies, consisting of software or hardware components that assist in machine learning, computer vision, natural language understanding or language processing (LP).
In general, AI systems work by collecting large amounts of data (Big Data). They analyze it for correlations and patterns. And then they use these patterns to predict future states or perform actions.
Learning, reasoning and correction are the three most important cognitive abilities of AI. Collecting data and establishing rules to turn it into valuable knowledge is the goal of the learning component of AI programming.
Algorithms are rules that provide step-by-step instructions for performing a job to computer hardware. We tend to imagine an algorithm as a mathematical formula, but in general, it is more like a logical process of reasoning. Selecting the optimal algorithm to achieve a given result is at the heart of the logic of AI programming. In addition, correctness is about tuning algorithms on a regular basis to ensure that they produce the most accurate results possible.
AI is crucial because it can serve companies to obtain previously unavailable information about their operations. In addition, in some situations, AI can execute tasks better than people. AI systems often perform operations quickly and with a minimum of errors. When it comes to repetitive detail-oriented activities, such as evaluating large numbers of legal documents to verify that key fields are filled in correctly, AI has proven beneficial.
It is estimated that 51.8% of internet traffic is already carried out by bots of various kinds.
Just as industrialization and robotics displaced thousands of repetitive manual jobs, it is expected that very soon AI will be able to perform tasks such as data analysis, programming. It does not have to destroy jobs, but it will certainly transform them. Let’s take computer programmers as an example. Today there are dozens of different programming languages, each with its own rules and requiring a steep learning curve. It is believed that AI will make it possible to unify all these languages in such a way that it will be AI that translates them in such a way that you will only need to know one programming language to be able to work with any language. Just as Copilot, a system capable of generating code autonomously, is already being used today to help developers save time and be more efficient.
AI has been used by today’s largest and most successful companies to improve their operations and gain an advantage over their competitors, and its impact on multiple sectors and fields could lead to a 25 times increase in investment by 2030.
AI in the Metaverse
AI plays an important role in the metaverse world by performing data analysis tasks. In this new environment called ‘metaverse’ where reality is represented digitally, including ourselves, every object, every action, every decision, even every intention can be measured with data.
Our interaction as human beings in the metaverse will be more complete than our interaction with websites and the Internet as we know them today. That means we can touch, act and move – virtually – within a 3D environment. We can do even more things, we can enter virtual stores or offices, we can operate cars, planes, ships or any other ‘virtual’ machines. The Metaverse solves the big problem for the development of AI projects, the collection of massive and quality data to be able to train it.
All these interactions will be measured, as all the underlying data produced will be recorded. Here comes why artificial intelligence will be key to the metaverse, being able to perform predictive analytics on human interaction and behavior, but now in a more holistic way. As is already the case today with the internet, well-trained algorithms will be able to predict our movements in the Metaverse, even before we are aware of what we are going to do.
In addition, AI is used in the creation and operation of the Metaverse, closely linked with the goal of most faithfully recreating real life in the Metaverse by creating inclusive contextual experiences, impacting three specific categories:
- the automatic digital twin
- the computer agent
- the autonomy of the avatar.
Automatic digital twin
A digital twin is nothing more than the digital replica of a real asset, for example, the digital replica of a painting, aircraft engines, trains, offshore platforms or buildings. These assets can be digitally designed and tested before being physically produced in addition to helping with maintenance operations. This is the case in manufacturing, an area where digital twin deployments are well advanced, as factories use them to simulate their processes. It is also increasingly common to find them in the healthcare sector, where information is sent to a digital twin to monitor and predict a patient’s well-being.
First, let’s talk about the automatic digital twin and start by differentiating three types of asset digitization:
- the digital model
- the digital shadow
- the digital twin
The digital replica of the physical entity refers to the digital model. In this model, there is no interaction between the Metaverse and the physical world.
Then, in the digital shadow, one can see the digital representation of the physical entity. If the physical entity changes, the digital shadow also changes.
Finally, in the case of the digital twin, the physical world and the Metaverse influence each other. Changes in one space cause changes in the other. The Metaverse focuses on this type of digitization.
- Digital model: there is no interaction between the Metaverse and the physical world.
- Digital shadow: the digital representation of the physical entity can be seen if the physical entity changes, the digital shadow also changes.
- Digital twin: the physical world and the Metaverse influence each other. Changes in one space cause changes in the other. The Metaverse focuses on this type of digitization.
Next is the computer agent, also known as a non-player character or NPC. This is a character that is not controlled by the player. With the increase of realism in the gaming industry, AI is used to shape NPCs by mimicking the intelligent behavior of players in order to achieve the best quality of entertainment and meet the needs of players on the game front. One of the first steps is to endow these NPCs with the ability to generate more personal conversations, with greater context and capable of translating between all spoken languages.
NPC intelligence includes control strategy, fantastic graphics, voice, realistic character animation, etc.
A Metaverse filled with NPCs that have passed the Turing Test can take us to a never-before-seen universe of human-machine interaction only imagined in science fiction books.
The last one is the avatar autonomy. It refers to the digital representation of players or users in the Metaverse. The avatar can be a human-like character, an animal or an imaginary creature that can be created in any application or game.
In the Metaverse, users can interact with other users or computer agents through an avatar. Therefore, we can say that in order to create more realistic virtual environments, a wide variety of avatar representations will be needed.
There is a lot of talk about transhumanism, this cultural and intellectual trend that pleads for the integration between humans and technology to improve our capabilities (what we call cyborgs). Some real examples such as the use of pacemakers or the transplantation of a chip in the brain of Parkinson’s patients make us see that we are not so far from this reality. For example, companies such as Neuralink (Elon Musk’s). But before we see this “evolution” in our bodies, we are going to see it in a virtual environment, the Metaverse.
In the Metaverse, our own personality will be integrated with an “AI-enhanced” avatar that will allow us to interact in this environment with “superpowers”. It is not only that in the Metaverse we are subject to different laws of physics than in the real world, it is that the AI will allow our avatar to do things that we cannot, such as talk to anyone in the world in their language, suggest conversation topics, impossible mental calculations, strategies of action and for those who believe that they will never get to have a sufficiently immersive experience in the Metaverse, they should only remember that 20 years ago we did not have a cell phone and today we say: “I’m running out of battery” and not “my cell phone is running out of battery” because it is a technology that we have so integrated that our brain already thinks of it as a simple extension of our body. Our brain’s capacity to adopt technology is huge.
With the help of artificial intelligence, the virtual world of the future is being built. With a technological, economic, cultural and social impact that is totally unpredictable, but which allows us to create a digital twin of our life, a metaverse where the limits for the development of human activity are unlimited. One of the goals is to develop artificial intelligence “good enough” to create useful experiences for users.