Metaverse: How Is It Powered By AI?

Metaverse

Artificial intelligence is proving to be one of the pillars on which the metaverse will develop. Starting with the processing of user-generated data, continuing with generative AI to create photorealistic virtual environments and user-like avatars, passing through the ability to recognize body movements and thus make the experience in the metaverse more natural. But AI will also be able to give life to the digital characters that will populate virtual worlds, such as non-human characters and personal assistants, and will allow everyone to understand each other in their own language by performing simultaneous translations of speech. Artificial intelligence will be able to help create increasingly engaging and user-friendly experiences, to maximize activity and engagement time as is the case today in social networks, and could perform supervisory functions by stopping harassment even before it happens, provided not to have problems with an intrusive AI that listens to all our conversations and evaluates our every movement.

Metaverse: What Are The Applications Of AI?

From processing user-generated data, continuing with generative AI to create photorealistic virtual environments and user-like avatars, passing through the ability to recognize body movements and thus make the experience in the metaverse more natural.

Artificial intelligence is proving to be one of the pillars on which the metaverse will develop. Starting with the processing of user-generated data, continuing with generative AI to create photorealistic virtual environments and user-like avatars, passing through the ability to recognize body movements and thus make the experience in the metaverse more natural. But AI will also be able to give life to the digital characters that will populate virtual worlds, such as non-human characters and personal assistants, and will allow everyone to understand each other in their own language by performing simultaneous translations of speech. Artificial intelligence will be able to help create increasingly engaging and user-friendly experiences, to maximize activity and engagement time as is the case today in social networks, and could perform supervisory functions by stopping harassment even before it happens, provided not to have problems with an intrusive AI that listens to all our conversations and evaluates our every movement.

What is the Metaverse?

One of the difficulties we have had in recent years is to define with sufficient accuracy what the metaverse is, a term that has come to the fore more for marketing reasons than anything else. Those with a few white hairs will recall similar problems defining “cyberspace” in the Internet boom years; a problem that does not arise today since the pervasive and continuous use of the medium pushes the name and definition into the background, an addiction that will probably also affect the metaverse in the years to come.

However, if we want to insist on crystallizing a definition, which is at least useful to establish the possibilities and limits of technology for this article, we can consider the metaverse as a series of digital environments with various levels of immersivity – from the simple browser or smartphone, to end up with fully virtual reality environments – allowing for interaction between many users (an environment limited to a single user does not fall within the definition). The metaverse, however, does not begin and end with a multi-user video game, but will assume such an important and engaging role as to represent a new piece of human existence or, if we want, a digital layer that will overlap and intersect with the physical one.

One of the fundamental elements of this new environment will be the interactions we will have with other users, which will lead us to invest resources – time yes, but also financial resources – to improve our status and our experience in the digital world. Therefore digital goods and services will be purchased, perhaps in the form of NFTs, from companies and other users, fueling a parallel but interconnected economy with the real one. It will be possible to assume identities other than the physical one, in some cases more satisfying and engaging than the one we have: think of William Dafoe’s character in the 1999 film eXistenZ, who was a gas station attendant in the real world but transformed into a divinity in digital reality. Something that has already partially been happening for years with iMMORPG, a Massively multiplayer online role-playing games, games where millions of people abandon their everyday life to become wizards, warriors, elves, and where many spend a fortune buying digital goods and services useful only for gaming.

The metaverse, given its immersiveness, the greater involvement between users, and a certain network effect caused by the huge investments of various Big Tech companies (Facebook/Meta in primis) could represent a new way of enriching one’s existence, or a colossal loss of time, depending on how the various stages of implementation will be addressed and how our company will respond.

How will AI be used in the Metaverse?

Artificial intelligence will provide critical support to the metaverse, making it easier for people to enter and stay within digital environments, as well as help with content generation and the interaction between humans and virtual worlds. Here are some of the most important use cases.

The AI ​​to keep everything on its feet

As the companies that host MMORPGs (such as World of Warcraft or Elder Scrolls Online, just to name a couple) well know that they must be able to play over half a million users simultaneously every day, keep such an infrastructure up and running it requires titanic efforts in terms of computational resources.

And it is precisely for this reason that Meta recently presented the AI ​​Research SuperCluster (RSC), one of the most powerful AI supercomputers in the world, which when it will be completed – around mid-2022 – will be the most powerful ever. As stated by the company, one of the tasks of the supercomputer will be to take care of the metaverse, keeping digital worlds operational and functioning, which will have to be able to host the activities of millions of users, even simultaneously, without slowdowns or resource problems.

Furthermore, artificial intelligence will be used to scan and process in real time the enormous amount of data produced every second by user activities in the company’s metaverse, to make possible the other use cases that we will now illustrate.

It allows the sending of promotional communications concerning the products and services of third parties with respect to the Joint Controllers who belong to the manufacturing, services (in particular ICT) and commerce branch, with automated and traditional contact methods by the third parties themselves, to whom the data is communicated.

Even a digital world requires the presence of spaces and scenography, to allow anyone who is occupying it at that moment to move, interact with the environment and carry out the various activities allowed by that particular place, whether it is a meeting room immersed in landscape mountains, a comet in deepest space or the reconstruction of Minas Tirith. But in the past for the construction of these digital environments we had to thank teams of developers who semi-manually created every single part, from the hills to the sea, placing trees or furniture by dragging them with the mouse, making sure that the floors and objects had the right collision (who has never fallen through the world due to an absent collision in a point of the map), tomorrow it will be a generative AI model to create all this,

It will be able to create environments that actually exist in the physical world, generating the 3D scene starting from simple photographs, thus allowing us to faithfully recreate any existing place in the world, from the Colosseum to the gardens of the Alhambra in Granada, up to the veranda of our beach house. The spaces will be so photorealistic and immersive as to be stunning.

Or it could generate completely invented spaces, starting from developer inputs but also using reinforcement learning to design spaces that are more comfortable, or fun, for human users. It would be enough to analyze which are the environments where users seem to enjoy themselves more, or relax more, discovering their characteristics and experimenting with the creation of spaces that are even more fun or even more relaxing. Perfecting the technique with each iteration, until areas are created that are perfect for various human needs.

Creating your own avatar

Although in the metaverse it is possible not to let anyone know who we are, there will be situations – such as, for example, places in the metaverse dedicated to business meetings – where disguising yourself behind a nickname and a Salvador Dali mask may not be commonly accepted behavior. In those environments, it will be necessary and useful to be present not only with one’s name but also with an avatar that resembles us as much as possible. Artificial intelligence can also help in this task, with models that analyze our photos and recreate a 3D avatar in our image and likeness.

Recognition of body movements

Anyone who is thinking about how to make us spend as much time as possible in the metaverse knows perfectly well that the current interfaces are not the best. The goal is to make movements as natural as possible, allowing people to perform operations in the simplest way, such as picking up an object or opening a virtual panel. To do this, artificial intelligence will be used to decipher the movements of the body, captured through sensors of different types, transforming them into orders or movements of the avatar.

Raising your hand to greet someone will have to be as simple as in the physical world, without holding any controller in hand, and opening or closing a virtual panel will be easy and immediate, with AI that will correctly interpret our every body movement.

But the recognition won’t stop there. The AI ​​will also be able to copy our facial expressions onto the avatar, so that one of our smiles is also the avatar’s smile, gradually transferring more and more expressions – frowning, yawning, being surprised, blinking, etc. – on our digital twin, so that our transposition from the physical to the digital world is as faithful as possible.

Chatbots and virtual assistants

In a digital world, of course, digital inhabitants cannot be missing. As anyone who follows these pages already knows, artificial intelligence is now able to hold discussions, correctly interpret input and produce suitably correlated outputs, giving the impression of understanding what is being said. This capability obtained thanks to the large linguistic models of which GPT-3 is one example among many, can be incorporated into the various digital agents that will populate the metaverse to produce extremely realistic virtual assistants or companions.

In online games, these agents are called NPCs, Non-Playing Characters, i.e. elements that are usually graphically similar to human avatars, but are there to do a few simple tasks, such as starting an adventure, distributing prizes, and reciting a speech. Over the years some games have made these digital agents take on slightly more complex tasks, such as following the player on adventures and fighting alongside him. But even in that case, these “comrades” do not show great signs of intelligence (indeed).

In the metaverse, thanks to AI, these NPCs or personal assistants will take on a completely renewed look, performing “intelligent” actions and carrying out much more complex tasks. Let’s think of a digital assistant that helps every single human being to move and explore the metaverse, recognizing the novice user’s mistakes and suggesting ways to correct them (or in some cases getting him out of trouble). Or a digital secretary who picks up incoming messages while we’re in a meeting in the metaverse, presenting them to us when the meeting ends.

Or again, since this already happens with various apps for smartphones, let’s imagine an area of ​​the metaverse where the virtual characters are there more as friends or companions, with whom to converse, talking about this or that, to tell their own problems or with whom to entertain real “romantic friendships”. Let’s not be surprised by all this: the ability of AI to create photorealistic human representations, together with that of being able to entertain conversations even of a certain depth, will make digital romantic adventures a very widespread hidden activity in the future.

Simultaneous translations

Real-time translation is one of the use cases explicitly declared by Meta, which will dedicate part of its supercomputer to this activity. The idea is to allow a group of people from different countries, where everyone speaks a different language, to speak and understand each other in real time. To do this, the artificial intelligence will first have to recognize the language spoken by a user, interpret every single word and recognize the meaning, correctly translating it into the language spoken by the other interlocutor and then generating the translated text in audio format, perhaps with the same voice of the first interlocutor (in this case an audio deepfake would be used to simulate the voice).

All this is already possible, in theory. In practice, it requires massive resources, especially if you want to do it in near real time and at the scale that the metaverse requires. But Meta has been directing resources for some time to achieve this result. In September 2020, it released Wav2vec, to recognize speech structures directly from audio without going through the transcribed text. In May 2021, with Wav2vec-U, he demonstrated that unsupervised machine learning is able to recognize speech better than other methods, while in November of the same year his multi-language translation model beat the other bilingual models in a competition on machine translations. At that juncture, Meta bluntly stated that her goal is to create a universal translator.

We now know that all these research efforts, which began already years ago, were aimed at finding a way for people from different countries to speak together in their mother tongues, and what better use case than the metaverse to put this project into practice.

Algorithms to increase engagement and presence

It is undisputed that even in the metaverse metrics such as engagement, activity time, login frequency and so on will be fundamental for the companies that will host digital content and environments. Just as today all social networks push us to keep as much time as possible in their systems, even in the metaverse there will be algorithms for recommending and selecting content that will do everything to suggest what interests us most.

This is a very familiar situation, given that we already connect to social networks to see what’s happening, to read something new, to chat with our contacts or – more frequently – because some notification arrives prompting us to do so. And when we open the app or website, different algorithms get to work to prevent us from logging out too quickly.

With the metaverse, it will be the same thing, but enhanced by the fact that we will enter an immersive environment, where the algorithms will be able to count on greater involvement of the user and on many more senses – sight, hearing, touch – to be able to tease, entice and finally seize. Even today, an hour spent in virtual reality passes very quickly, if it weren’t for the devices that are still too bulky and heavy on the face. When it will be physically easier to immerse yourself in the metaverse, and when the clumsy systems that regulate content will be more sophisticated and intelligent, detaching from this new digital existence will certainly become more difficult. Unfortunately, AI will be one more weapon that companies will have to convince us to stay connected as much as possible and even now there are those who believe that the metaverse of Meta will be a place full of marketing and manipulation.

Related posts

Why Does Your Business Need Graphic Design Tools?

Nehita Abraham

Elon Musk Did Not Launch Tesla! Here’s the Short but Fascinating History

Shweta Jhawar

Three Technological Advancements That Will Change Online Betting

Akarsh Shekhar