A robot hand representing A.I. holding the world in its palm

3 ways AI is reshaping the world around us

Everyone’s talking about artificial intelligence these days. According to your viewpoint, AI is either an epoch-defining innovation on a par with the Industrial Revolution, or else we’re at the peak of a hype cycle and it will eventually be viewed as simply another tool for businesses to use as they see fit. Who knows – but for now, here are three ways AI is reshaping the world around us.

AI avatars are supporting the Chinese grieving process

Recently, news reports surfaced about the rise of so-called ‘deathbots’ in China. If you’re wondering what a deathbot is, it’s the use of generative AI technology to create avatars that bring the deceased back to life in digital form. Entrepreneurs are capitalising on this trend by using sophisticated language models like ChatGPT to create consumer-friendly applications. Deathbots are crafted with voices and appearances resembling the departed, providing a way for individuals to reconnect with their loved ones.

While this may sound creepy to some, to others these AI avatars provide comfort. This may be especially true in a country like China, where state restrictions on religion limit traditional avenues for grieving. Given the restricted communal opportunities for exploring the afterlife in China, online resources such as fortune-telling and AI chatbots have become accessible sources of comfort for those in mourning.

Businesses have sprung up to cater to this demand, offering to craft chatbots modelled on deceased loved ones, albeit at significant costs. Some even offer features like integrating AI avatars into memorial services. AI avatars in China are particularly evident during the Qingming tomb-sweeping festival in April, dedicated to honouring ancestors.

This trend reflects a broader global movement towards creating personalised avatars featuring loved ones, celebrities, politicians, or even oneself. Startups worldwide offer diverse services, such as apps generating AI avatars of deceased pets in Taiwan and US-based companies preserving user personas posthumously. However, concerns regarding emotional well-being and ethical implications highlight the need for careful oversight.


YouTube is enabling AI-generated voice dubbing

Last year, YouTube introduced a new feature which allows creators to dub videos in multiple languages using AI. During VidCon 2023, the company announced its collaboration with Aloud, an AI-driven dubbing service.

According to Aloud’s website, the tool initially transcribes your video, providing a transcript for your review and editing. Subsequently, it proceeds to translate and generate the dubbed version.

It’s still early days, with the tool undergoing testing with further iterations expected. While Aloud currently supports some languages, including English, Spanish, and Portuguese, more are slated for inclusion in future.

Despite its limited language options, Aloud has potential for creators seeking to incorporate multi-language dubs into their content. In future, YouTube aims to enhance translated audio tracks to mimic the creator’s voice more accurately, with added expression and improved lip-sync.

A caveat, though: As ever, the risk with automated translation is scope for error, which can prove costly for brands. Using Local In-Market Experts is the best way to ensure authentic localisation.


The start-up working to teach AI about African history

Large language models like ChatGPT need contextual data on which to train and learn. This gives an inherent advantage to a global language like English – there is a much greater volume of quality content in English. Over half the internet remains in English, and many academic journals – across markets and disciplines – are published in English. AI’s potential to entrench Anglo-centric languages or perspectives is something which has caused concern at EU level.

One start-up in Africa is helping to counter this disparity. Archivi.ng, a non-profit startup based in Lagos, Nigeria, spearheaded by Fu’ad Lawal, is on a mission to digitise Nigeria’s historical newspapers dating back to independence in 1960. With over 50,000 pages scanned already, the project aims to preserve these decaying newspapers, currently scattered across libraries and private collections. The initiative aims to provide online access to Nigeria’s history.

Archivi.ng sheds light on the challenges faced by journalists and media outlets during Nigeria’s turbulent times, including censorship and intimidation. The project emphasises the importance of documenting historical events to combat false nostalgia and inform present-day governance. However, despite progress through public donations, substantial funding and navigating intellectual property laws remain significant hurdles.

Beyond preserving history, Archivi.ng’s initiative helps with the advancement of artificial intelligence. Recognising the scarcity of contextual data from Africa in AI models, Lawal and his team realised the impact that digitising historical newspapers would have on AI development. In an era where data fuels AI models, efforts like Archivi.ng are crucial for ensuring comprehensive and accurate representation.

The process of sourcing, scanning, and platforming historical materials is intricate. Archivi.ng gathers content from various sources. Through manual tagging, scanning, and uploading, the platform ensures users can easily access and search for specific content. Ultimately, Archivi.ng’s efforts not only preserve Nigeria’s history but also address the need for accessible historical data to inform the present and shape the future, while contributing to AI’s advancement on the continent.

. . .

The world around us is evolving rapidly. Oban and its unique network of Local In-Market Experts can help you stay ahead. To find out how, please get in touch.

Oban International is the digital marketing agency specialising in international expansion.
Our LIME (Local In-Market Expert) Network provides up to date cultural input and insights from over 80 markets around the world, helping clients realise the best marketing opportunities and avoid the costliest mistakes.

Skip to content