Whenever you have applied for a job, or even visited an ecommerce store, has it happened that you are, in fact, engaging with Chatbot? No, not the text-based ones, but rather those that have a face, and converse with you in English? The latter are known as “Digital Persons” and are (like the text-based variety) powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms, especially those that are found in Machine Learning and Neural Networks. Digital Persons are the focal point of this article series.  

What Is a Digital Person? 

In technical terms, the Digital Person can be defined as follows: “Digital People™ don’t follow a script. They are completely autonomous and interactive, enabling unique, relevant, 1:1 customer interaction.” (Source 1)  

Other terms that are used interchangeably with the Digital Person include: 

  • Digital Persona 
  • Digital Personality 
  • Digital Human 
  • Virtual Human 
  • Virtual Being 

The bottom line is that in the end, you, the end user, are interacting with a digital figurine produced by AI. When “he” or “she” converses with you, they are designed to emulate all human characteristics to make you feel like you are talking with a genuine human being, right next to you. Digital Person is used in a wide variety of industries, most typically in customer facing applications.  

Typical examples of this include call centers and job recruitment. Rather than talking to a real agent or Human Resources Personnel, you will likely find yourself interacting with a Digital Person. One of the main reasons they are used here is to alleviate the backlog faced by actual human beings in these industries. For example, when it comes to recruitment, the Digital Person will engage in a conversation with the job candidate to determine if they meet the baseline requirements for the actual position. If they do, they will then be referred to an actual recruiter for further review and possible interviews.  

Here is an illustration of the Digital Person:

(Source 2)

How The Digital Person Evolved

As was mentioned at the beginning of this article, the Digital Person evolved from different areas of AI, and can be illustrated as follows:

The evolution of the Digital Person can be broken into five stages, which are as follows:

  • The First Phase: The first cuts of the Digital Person were created manually and were primarily available as 2-D replicas of a human being.
  • The Second Phase: This is the phase where Facial Recognition was first used. This included the shape of the mouth, and other facial gestures (such as smiles, frowns, eye movements, etc.). Other bodily movements were also created, such as the rotation and the up/down movements of the head, and various kinds of hand gestures. But these kinds of Digital Persons were still not live and were still recorded by traditional video.
  • The Third Phase: This is point at which AI and the bulk of its components were starting to be used to create the first interactive version of the Digital Person. At this point, avatars evolved, and the first interactions with real human beings started to take place. In this phase, video was no longer needed, and all conversations were held live.
  • The Fourth Phase: This stage represented a culmination of the first three phases, and for the first time, real live behavior took place with the Digital Person.
  • The Fifth Phase: This is deemed the most advanced stage so far in the evolution of the Digital Person. The primary reason for this is that a blend of Natural Language Processing, Generative AI, Facial Recognition, and even Computer Vision have all come together into one platform. This technology has now evolved to the point that a Digital Person can be created within minutes, consisting of 3-Dimensional technology as well.

Up Next: Is it a Digital Person, a Chatbot, or a Virtual Personal Assistant?

The virtual characters we “meet” online have a lot in common, but not all of them are actually Digital Persons. The next article in this series will explore the similarities and differences between Chatbots, Virtual Personal Assistants, and true Digital Persons.


1: Soul Machines

  1. Shutterstock

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Ravi Das is a Cybersecurity Consultant and Business Development Specialist. He also does Cybersecurity Consulting through his private practice, RaviDas Tech, Inc. He also possesses the Certified in Cybersecurity (CC) cert from the ISC2.

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