A colleague passed on a press release announcing that “the world’s first movie character powered by true AI” has arrived on social media platforms.
Naturally, my internal ‘potential blog post’ siren began to wail. And I also thought, ‘that’s quite a cool idea’.
It’s the work of Sony Pictures and artificial intelligence agency IV.AI, and the press release promised me I could match wits against Resident Evil’s Red Queen by messaging her on Facebook.
The release tempts me as follows (the highlighting is mine):
True to the character that fans know and love, the Red Queen’s dismissiveness and attitude have been embedded in the personality profile of the experience using AI, so that the audience can have genuine interaction with the character.
This unique messenger experience utilizes automated AI with built-in natural language processing in multiple languages, across a variety of social media platforms enabling fans of the films to interact with the Red Queen character in real time.
‘SO COOL!’ I thought.
Here’s a rundown of my experience with the Red Queen.
I agreed to the terms and conditions (a non-clickable link was provided) and there she was, the Red Queen. She knew my name, and her quick-fire introduction with flickering GIFs did somewhat conjure the spirit of the franchise.
As you can see from the first question of the game, below, the experience is very much one of multiple choice. Quite how this style of interaction is meant to elicit intelligence, I’m not sure.
I got the first question right by guessing. Note how the Red Queen says ‘I know it well’, as if I had introduced the topic of the secret research facility and not her. Funny.
Any natural language processing that goes into the game certainly doesn’t involve the processing of my own words, as I’m not allowed to write any.
The second question is multiple choice once again. Again I guess the right answer.
I got the next question wrong, failing to identify a hideous slimy creature which luckily you can’t see in the screenshot below. I like how the Red Queen insulted me for my ignorance. ‘Kinda pathetic’ she said, and now I’m getting my own back.
Perhaps the natural language processing goes into creating unique insults in real-time? It’s hard to tell, the whole thing could just as easily function off a pre-prepared spreadsheet.
I get the next question wrong, too, not aided by an image that failed to render, so I was guessing blind.
The Red Queen was not surprised I made the wrong choice. She’s a ray of sunshine.
And with those incorrect answers my game is seemingly over. I am bombarded with three or four messages at the end – invitations to share, picture of high scorers, an embedded trailer for the movie.
I’m also invited to come back and play in 24 hours.
Where is the AI?
So, a sort-of-fun game for Resident Evil fans, but the “world’s first movie character powered by AI on social platforms”? It doesn’t feel like that to me.
It feels more like a multiple choice quiz with some cool GIFs and a bit of ‘personality’ (with inverted commas).
I tried to play the game a second time and send the Red Queen a message, but she wasn’t having any of it (see below). Maybe future games will have a bit more intelligence built in?
PR has a responsiblity not to overhype AI
I know it seems like I’m flaming this game, but it’s a completely passable quiz and it’s cool that it’s available in a mobile-ready format within Messenger. I can imagine fans trying to top the leaderboard.
But the press release goes a bit far in saying, “Using IV.AI’s sophisticated artificial intelligence ingestion system, the online experience has been created using Resident Evil scripts, films and writers from Sony Pictures Entertainment. Alongside this, IV.AI’s natural language processing algorithms and emotional analysis based machine learning transforms this data into a natural feeling, interactive artificial character online.”
I not sure what that means. Looking at IV.AI’s website I would suppose that most of the Resident Evil game I have discovered so far uses decision trees – simply mapping out information to guide a bot experience. Perhaps in my next game (after waiting 24 hours) I will get the chance to type a message and the bot will use emotional analysis to gauge some kind of response.
IV.AI’s tech is no doubt really cool and something we should talk about (I’ll have to do a follow-up with the agency), but whacking ‘AI’ in every press release is misleading. Soon the public will believe that C3PO is close to a reality when, in fact, natural language processing still has a long way to go yet.
All sorts of different tech can be called AI-powered, but why can’t we concentrate on what that actually means, what the benefits are, rather than using it as clickbait?
Confusing people with terminology already happens in the world of display advertising, we need to ensure it isn’t propagated further afield.
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