Researchers Building AI Based on Joey from Friends

A team of researchers from Leeds University are building an artificial intelligence based on the character of Joey Tribbiani – played by Matt LeBlanc – from the sitcom Friends. James Charles, Derek Magee, and David Hogg of the university’s Computer Science Department want to create a fully interactive Joey AI, much like Apple’s Siri or Alexa of Amazon Echo, as outlined in a new paper, which is yet to be peer-reviewed.

The researchers have developed an algorithm that can scan episodes of TV in order to effectively mimic its characters, with the goal to “build virtual talking avatars of characters fully automatically from TV shows.”

“For many years humans have been enthralled with recording people and their activities using e.g. sculpture, paintings, photographs, video and sound,” the researchers write. “We strive to modernize the existing set of recording methods by building a generative computational model of a person’s motion, appearance, speech, language and their style of interaction and behavior.”

While Joey is not the only character the team hopes to create, they use him as an immediate frame of reference.

“For illustrative purposes throughout this paper,” they explain, presumably due to the sheer volume of Friends content for its algorithm to feast upon, “we train our generative audiovisual and language model on Joey from the popular TV show Friends, allowing him to say new sentences in his own style and voice. Next we give an overview of the system.”

Which fictional TV character would you like to see become an AI?

Ashley Allen

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