Vincent Müller in documentary ‘The Digital Human’

December 3, 2021

Can you imagine, discussing your problems with a digital therapist instead of a real person? Virtual assistants are on the rise and getting better at empathy and emotion. Will we be able to see or hear the difference between humans and machines?

Interpersonal communication is the next area where In AI (Artificial Intelligence) will be making big leaps. Scientists and companies worldwide are working on human-looking avatars with interactions that are as realistic as possible. Digital humans, they are called. Interestingly enough, the innovations in this field are taking place mainly in the healthcare sector.

Maybe these digital humans can help us solve structural problems like staff shortages in healthcare and education. The big question is whether we should want that.

In the documentary ‘The Digital Human’, VPRO Tegenlicht talks to a number of pioneers in the world of the digital human among other full professor of TU/e Vincent C. Müller. He is ‘not happy’ about the portrayal of machines as digital humans. “Empathy is a human feature, it means you sympathize with the other: you feel what they feel. A digital device, with any technology, does not have this feature. Machines can pretend to have this feature, but what it should never do is pretend to be empathetic, because then you fool the human. A machine cannot say that it understands humans because it cannot. Thus, the term digital human, is a contradiction in terms.

Watch the full episode of Tegenlicht