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DeepFest Closes With World-First Unveiling of AI-Generated Digital Twin

Aaron Caffrey, Head of Engineering at Yepic

His Excellency Dr Esam Alwagait, Director of the National Info Centre at SDAIA

Gaming star Jordi Van den Bussche quizzed on stage by his identical avatar, who shows insight, emotional intelligence – and a glimpse of the future

RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA, March 7, 2024 / -- Ask yourself this: If you could clone yourself, what would you have your doppelganger do? On the final day of DeepFest, the premier meeting place for the global AI ecosystem, that was the topic of discussion during a groundbreaking, world-first demonstration in which a Dutch YouTuber was interviewed live on stage by his AI-generated digital twin.

Jordi Van den Bussche, Founder of JVDB Studios and a popular YouTuber specialising in gaming, sat on the DeepFest Main Stage at Riyadh Exhibition and Convention Centre in Malham, while his identical on-screen avatar quizzed him on his career, his beliefs, and his thoughts on the future of AI. Processing Van den Bussche’s answers, the avatar responded with empathy, insights, thought-provoking follow-up questions – and the odd apology for interrupting.

“Indeed, the creation and integration of AI clones into society would be a significant development,” the avatar said with a smile after listening to Van den Bussche discuss the same subject. “Can you provide some examples to expand on how you think AI clones can have a unique impact on humanity in the future?”

Powered by Yepic AI, the avatar computes facial recognition in real-time to interpret emotion and enable tailored responses, creating a more engaging and personalised experience. The technology was developed especially for DeepFest, which is co-located with LEAP, the world’s most-attended tech event, and powered by the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA).

Aaron Caffrey, Head of Engineering at Yepic AI, said: “The key to making that human-AI connection is the emotion. It is not only having the avatar express themselves, but to understand what you truly mean. We look at the voice, the sentiment, the tone, the face – if you say something sarcastically, for example, it will pick up on that. That is the next generation of the technology, and it is here. It is going to change the way humanity interacts with AI.”

Caffrey envisages a future in which the technology can be implemented into everything from the hotels to hospitals, customer service to pure consumerism, whereby everybody has their own dedicated personal assistant.

“Personal assistants are going to be such an embedded part of our lives that we will not want to go anywhere without one,” he added. “We will want it on our smartwatch, on our phones, in our cars; reminding us to do things and helping us as a companion. In the future, more people are going to be adopting AI companions: A voice assistant that pops up and gives advice, visual prompts on directions, helpful insights when you see someone at a conference for the first time in two years and can’t remember their name – that would have been really handy here this week!”

LEAP 2024 organisers, Tahaluf, confirmed at the end of its four-day run on Thursday evening that the third edition of the annual conference had broken its own attendance record, counting 215,000 people through its doors across four days – a jump of some 25 per cent on last year. As well as helping position the Kingdom at the epicentre of the tech industry, that rapid growth also reflects an ever-heightening interest in future tech and AI.

His Excellency Dr Esam Alwagait, Director of the National Info Centre at SDAIA, delivered the keynote speech on the final day of DeepFest, which brought more than 150 leading AI experts and 120 global AI companies to Riyadh.

“Saudi Arabia, by embracing a comprehensive AI strategy focusing on developing skills, enhancing policies and regulations, promoting investment, and enabling research and innovation, is positioning itself as a frontrunner in the realm of data-driven economies,” said Dr Alwagait. “Our visionary agenda aiming at establishing the nation as an international hub for data and AI and to become an industry leader by 2030 manifests the country’s unwavering commitment to fostering AI collaborations, ethical practices, and AI sustainable development.”

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About LEAP:
Saudi Arabia is putting itself at the forefront of emerging tech through large-scale adoption and ambitious pilot projects. Its ambition will be showcased on a global stage and the Kingdom will become a hub that connects three continents. LEAP is a manifestation of this ambition. A seismic event that accelerates the adoption of technology and transforms Saudi Arabia’s economy. Together with LEAP, the Kingdom will see mass tech adoption, a shift away from oil as the principal strategic economic resource, and instead become a regional hub for both traditional and emerging technology.

Saudi Arabia has an endless ambition to shoot for something beyond that thought possible, to achieve a significant impact from game-changing tech and globally disruptive projects and to always keep one eye on the stars.

About Tahaluf:
Headquartered in Riyadh, Tahaluf brings together strategically important commercial communities from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the wider Gulf region, and from around the world to a portfolio of world-class exhibitions and digital platforms.

Tahaluf is a joint venture partnership between Informa PLC, the world’s largest tradeshow organiser, the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones (SAFCSP), and Events Investment Fund (EIF). Sela, the Saudi-owned event production company renowned for its creation of spectacular event experiences, intends to join the joint venture in the near future.

Following the highly successful launches in the Kingdom of award-winning tech events LEAP, Black Hat Middle East, the artificial intelligence event DeepFest, Cityscape Global, the Global Health Exhibition and InFlavour for the food industry, Tahaluf plans to launch further diverse original concept events for the Infrastructure sector, the VC community, and multiple other sectors including Health, Consumer, Aviation, Consumer and Luxury. Tahaluf will also bring iconic Informa brands to Saudi Arabia, including CPHI and Cosmoprof, serving the global pharmaceutical and beauty industries, respectively.
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Nour Ibrahim
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