Virtual humans, similar to Apple's Siri, present concise value propositions for both corporations and end users, and this will continue, expand, and grow, according to MyCyberTwin chief executive officer (CEO), Liesl Capper.
In a presentation titled Machines to replace humans completely? at the Australian Computer Society (ACS) Youth IT Conference (YITcon) 2012, Capper said that this is a result of the integration of technology into daily life, particularly due to the proliferation of mobility which is developing to interact with the real world and 'read' it for the user.
As such, the virtual human resembles a service for the real human, whereby it is used to find an answer to any question (depending on the sophistication of the machine, of course). This is both external (calling a company or visiting its website) or personal (Siri being the example again).
At present, 18 per cent of individuals in the US turn to the virtual human to resolve issues. The figure stands at eight per cent for Australia.
According to Capper, reliance and utilisation of virtual humans is growing due to their ability to outperform human chat and call centres across all criteria, including accuracy, response time, cost, sales, and length of (relevant) chat.
This is evidence of humanity's willingness to interact with machines significantly surpasses common expectations.She said it is because virtual machines are more consistent.
Drawing on MyCyberTwin findings, she said that another reason is that humans have higher acceptance of the virtual human as it presents what the user sees as a more private and less judgemental experience.
Additionally, a virtual human has the ability to be customised, personalised, and essentially, made 'perfect' in the user's perspective, which contributes to the trust factor, and results in greater honesty from the user.
Capper said that professionals she regularly interacts with often revealed more to a virtual human than herself.
A few questions arise from such a reliance on virtual machines, though. For example, will the interactions between the human and virtual human continue to blur the boundary between the real world and cyber world? While Capper uses gaming as an example for such a blurring, statistics are inadequate in determining human perspective on 'reality.'
Another question is whether the 'perfectness' of virtual reality will consume humans and render human contact as insufficient. This question cannot be answered at present, although should be considered through the evolution of technological interaction