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AI Foundation, an AI research lab that gave us virtual Deepak Chopra, has launched AI.XYZ, a platform for people to create their own AI assistants.
Let’s hope it’s a tangible example of how we’re going to get along fine with AI, rather than be terminated by them. The idea is that we should all feel better if AI assistants offload some of our daily tasks.
The foundation calls it the world’s first AI life management platform, designed to promote a healthier work-life balance for busy people, said Lars Buttler, chairman of AI Foundation, a dual commercial and nonprofit entity.
The platform enables users to design their own AI assistants that can safely support them in both personal and professional settings. Each AI is unique to its creator and can assist with tasks such as note-taking, email writing, brainstorming, and offering personalized advice and perspectives.
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Unlike generic AI assistants from companies like Amazon, Google, Apple, or ChatGPT, each AI assistant designed on AI.XYZ belongs exclusively to its creator, knows the person’s values and goals, and provides more personalized help. The company sees a significant opportunity for workplaces and enterprises to provide each of their employees with their own AIs.
About 83% of workers suffer from work-related stress and seven out of every 10 workers aren’t engaged and working to their full potential, according to Zippia. With AI.XYZ, everyone can have their own personal proofreader, content creator, and brainstormer, saving hours of time and improving work quality.
Rob Meadows, CEO of AI Foundation, said, “Our goal is to give everyone back more time and energy to focus on the things they love – the things that make us human.” He added that AI.XYZ would not replace people but would extend everyone with their own AI that proactively works day and night to help them.
How it works
AI.XYZ is available in public beta and can be accessed on the web with an invitation code. Creators can interact with their AIs through text, voice, and video. A free subscription to AI.XYZ allows users to get started creating their own AI, while a premium subscription for $20 per month allows additional capabilities and customization options.
The AI Foundation has collaborated with top research institutions like the Technical University of Munich to create “sustainable AI” for everyone. The foundation also pioneered the concept of allowing individuals to create their own AI in 2019 through collaborations with early adopters such as billionaire Richard Branson and Deepak Chopra, among others. It spun out run of its research projects, Reality Defender, which has become a deep fake detection platform trusted by governments.
AI.XYZ said it protects user data and privacy while offering personalized benefits to its creators. Each AI is trained on its purpose, tasks to assist with, desired personality traits, preferred expressions, and ideal behaviors.
Creators can expand their AI’s knowledge through document sharing, linking to websites like LinkedIn and noting personal memories for future reference. Creators can also decide what their AI will look and sound like by either cloning their own face and voice or choosing options from the AI.XYZ library.
AI Foundation was started in 2017. Investors include Twitter cofounder Biz Stone, Founders Fund, OVO, Endeavor, The Brandtech Group, Alpha Edison and Correlation Ventures.
The foundation started as a nonprofit and remains both a nonprofit and a commercial entity today. If it finds commercial opportunities in its research, it can spin them out as startups.
“Years ago, before AI was cool, we innovated in AI,” said Lars Buttler, chairman of AI Foundation, in an interview with GamesBeat.
He noted that his prior company, online game publisher Trion Worlds, created cloud-based massively multiplayer online game worlds that had deeper AI characters. That company didn’t survive, but it helped the AI Foundation team think more about creating smart AI.
“The idea of creating very smart AI for (non-player characters) NPCs — your sidekicks or even a version of you — never really left me,” Buttler said. “I teamed up a few years ago with Rob and we decided to just go for that. It was a time when there was no ChatGPT. AI was not really cool yet. Nowadays, Marc Andreessen, Bill Gates — everybody talks about how personal AI is going to be the big thing. Everybody will have their own personal AI. We decided to do this years ago and build really interesting technology.”
Along the way, AI Foundation created Reality Defender as a for-profit company that could identify deep fakes for governments, banks and other parties to protect them from fraud. The foundation also got a lot of attention for creating a digital version of Deepak Chopra, the mindfulness and alternative medicine advocate, Meadows said.
“But we still believe that personal AI is even more important and even bigger,” Buttler said. “And you know, as we have to deal with all these layoffs and AI encroaching on our jobs, having your own AI sidekick is a really good thing. And so we spent the last few years basically trying to make this affordable for the masses.”
Then the large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT came along and made things much easier. The company had focused on creation of digital characters and natural language conversational interfaces. That helped lead to the announcement of AI.XYZ.
“We are now we are now capable to literally taking all these books, and any document you have, any content you have, and to literally just drop it in,” Buttler said. “So our technology has evolved a lot. We always use this example of how I learn Kung Fu from The Matrix. I can train my AI, everything about any topic, by literally just dropping all of this into my personal AI brain. And that’s a huge development. And it makes it so much easier to develop personal AI.”
Digital Deepak by the billion?
I asked if this was like Digital Deepak for everybody.
“It’s always been the vision,” Meadows said. “A lot of our early investors were Hollywood talent agencies, etc. So we started with those that could afford to do it early on. But all of our research over the last few years have been laser focused on cost. It used to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to create an AI. Now, it can cost $20.”
Part of the task of the last two years has been getting the models to run on central processing units (CPUs) instead of graphics processing units (GPUs). The large language models coming out helped a lot on the NLP side. On the visual rendering side, as devices get more powerful, AI Foundation was able to do more and more of that off servers.
“So the day is finally here where we can do that,” Meadows said.
So for $20 a month, people can have their own personal version of an assistant. It won’t look quite as good as many AI characters like Deepak, but the world is moving fast and AI Foundation is integrating new innovations, models and research as they becomes available, Meadows said.
Over time, your AI sidekick will get cheaper and smarter. The company isn’t using ChatGPT to ensure privacy and security as you talk with the AI about your life, family and work-life balance. Meadows said the uses include proofreading something for you, figuring out your next task, telling you to look at your emails or Slack messages, and other things on your to-do list.
It can also help you with brainstorming, noting appointments coming up, or other tasks that take a lot of your time. It adds value by making you more efficient. And by helping you with personal things in addition to work, it can be more sticky, Buttler said.
“It will have all the really the knowledge base of the company you work for,” Buttler said. “So you can think of this also as your expert AI HR person that is always available to you. It can help you with onboarding. You can just ask.”
It also won’t be sharing all of the details with your company, Meadows said. So it keeps personal things, like your vacation whereabouts, private as needed.
The long run
The AI assistant are in a beta testing mode now, and a lot of people are on the waiting list.
For the long run, Meadows is excited about industry developments, such as new plug-ins, new foundational models, and other innovations that can be plugged into the AI assistant. Over time, the goal is to have the AI assistant be the manager of all of the other AIs in your life.
I asked if people wanted virtual AIs or robots. Five years ago, people wanted to clone themselves. A lot of people still want that. But with AI.XYZ, you can make your AI look like a teddy bear or an avatar from a game. You can give it a different voice.
“We have a whole library, upload a picture of what you want it to look like, and we’ll clone that for you,” Meadows said. “And then as we move into the real world, as you start to have intelligent vacuum cleaners cleaning your house, do you want the manufacturer of your vacuum to put a brain in your vacuum? Or do you want your AI to be able to interface with your vacuum and know exactly the way you want your house done?”
Buttler noted it’s easier to focus on digital AI assistants, rather than robots. He noted that if an edge case goes wrong, a robot can do a lot more damage to you than a digital AI. Meadows noted that more than half of AI Foundation’s code base is written by AI now. The foundation has raised more than $30 million.
The company is just starting to scale up beta testing for the AI assistants. As for the competition, it’s the human executive assistant who manages your personal and professional life. But that person won’t cost you just $20 a month. Eventually, the big tech companies will be competitors, as well as other AI firms. AI Foundation has a number of pilots going that will show off the value of the AI assistants, Meadows said.
As for AI taking over the world and destroying humans? Buttler said there is too much emotion in the discussion now and AI assistant technology isn’t anywhere near the level of general artificial intelligence where machines would think for themselves. AI Foundation clearly doesn’t believe its products or others being created now are a threat to humanity or will destroy jobs.
“We don’t believe the world should stop innovating and hit pause right now,” Meadows said. “We think it’s important that the faster we put this in the hands of everybody, to put AI in the hands of everybody.”
He added, “We’re putting a lot of guardrails in there.”
If someone talks about hurting themselves to an AI assistant, it will inform them of hotline protections and how to get help.
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