This week, a NetEase-sponsored AI conference took place in an unusual setting – inside Justice, its top game. For the first time, attendees of a conference were able to choose characters, their clothing and facial expressions and immerse as one would in a game in the workshops and presentations at DAI 2020.
While users (and investors alike) came to praise Zoom Video Communications (Nasdaq: ZM) over the Covid-19 outbreak, NetEase Fuxi Lab decided to offer more than just a video chat. It sought to make the setting "more interesting and interactive," as a NetEase representative told CapitalWatch earlier this week.
It was the second Distributed AI (DAI) forum since it launched in 2019. This year, the four-day event, taking place from Saturday to Tuesday, attracted more than 300 AI researchers and practitioners. In addition to the game setting, attendees could join via Zoom or see live streams via Bilibili (Nasdaq: BILI).
(Tailored DAI 2020 costumes; source: NetEase)
But the "martial-arts style" game venue was what made DAI 2020 especially stand out. Fuxi Lab said it used "the technology of cloud gaming and AI to offer a highly interactive and engaging experience."
"Participants can customize their personal avatar and choose their costume, hairstyle and accessories with classic style of China's Northern Song Dynasty and interact with others with the avatar's physical and facial expressions."
(Virtual dance performance during tea break at DAI 2020)
Fuxi also said that it expects to see the use of this immersive game experience to spill over into other scenarios, including education and travel.
"For instance," the company told CapitalWatch, "users can experience a historical lesson in an immersive set, have a wedding on Moon and attend a fashion show at sea bottom."
Among the speakers at the event were John Hopcroft, the IBM Professor of Engineering and Applied Mathematics in Computer Science at Cornell University, and Qiang Yang, who is a Chair Professor at Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and is also the chief AI officer at WeBank.
(Conference room at DAI 2020)
Other sponsors of DAI 2020 were Chinese tech behemoth Huawei Technologies, Suzhou International Science-Park Data Center (SISDC), Nanjing-based AI startup Polixir, and inspir.ai, which develops cognitive decision-making intelligent technology.
On Wednesday in New York, the stock in NetEase (Nasdaq: NTES; HKEX: 9999) traded at $86.85 per share, down 2%, after peaking at $88.96 on Tuesday. It now trades about 34% higher than in early January, before the Covid-19 outbreak and the ensuing quarantine tied gamers to their screens.