22:33 GMT26 October 2020
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    Twelve years after the final episode of US sitcom Friends was aired, one of the show's most popular characters, Joey Tribbiani, played by Matt LeBlanc has been immortalized by a team of Artificial Intelligence (AI) specialists in Britain.

    "We created a virtual interactive avatar of the TV character, so that we can interact with the avatar in the same way that we would interact with the TV character themselves," Dr. James Charles, Research Fellow at the University of Leeds told Sputnik.

    "We're using TV shows as a scientific experiment. Our main goal is to capture what it is that makes people who they are and learn how to replicate this," Dr. Charles added.

    To make Joey talk, the team at Leeds University used an algorithm to pick from a database of sound units, scientifically known as phonemes.

    They selected the correct phoneme in order to string a sentence together and make it sound smooth and natural with the correct intonation and using the right words.

    ​"The algorithm automatically scans the TV show and extracts training data for our model to learn," Dr. Charles explains.

    "We attempted to virtually immortalize Joey so we can interact with him at a later date."

    Instead of interacting with a black screen, "the application is putting faces to virtual assistants like Siri or Alexa," Dr. Charles explains. "It's a natural progression of technology and it's more natural to talk to a face instead of a screen. 

    "TV producers and script writers have already created likeable personalities, which we would enjoy talking to, so why not use these in avatars?" Dr. Charles told Sputnik.

    In the not so distant future, "Virtual Joey" will be an artificially intelligence version of Matt LeBlanc's famous character who will be able to generate new sentences, not just the familiar, "how you doin'?".


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    Hey Siri, algorithms, data, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Siri, virtual reality, database, technology, Leeds, Great Britain, Europe, United Kingdom
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