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In Japan, models occupy a similar position to the one cherry blossoms do. While appreciative eyes across the country love to gaze upon them, that pleasure is fleeting. The flowers are notorious for the brief window between when their buds open and wither, and given the premium the Japanese modeling industry places on youth, gurabia idols (a class that covers women who pose in swimwear, lingerie, or other sexy outfits) don’t tend to have particularly long careers.

But you know what never gets older or ground down by the high-pressure showbiz life? Artificial intelligence constructs, which is there’s now a crowdfunding project to create an AI version of one popular Japanese model, and the preview video shows the prototype chatting, blinking, and showing its terrifying, terrifying teeth.

The muse for this initiative is 23-year-old Tokyo native Ai Shinozaki. In addition to releasing nine photo collections and dozens of DVDs, Shinozaki has recorded three single CDs and appeared in movies, stage productions, radio programs, and variety shows.

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In other words, Shinozaki leads a busy life, and while the members of the Shinozaki AI Project are definitely fans, they’re also worried about their idol of choice. In the description of their crowdfunding project through website Green Funding, the group declares:

“For many years, we have been working in entertainment production. Recently, we’ve become keenly aware of how quickly entertainment personalities are consumed. This process is especially fast for gurabia idols.”

“In order to transform precious entertainment personalities from existences that are consumed to ones that continue forever, we are launching a project to create an Ai Shinozaki artificial intelligence.”

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The goal of the Shinozaki AI Project (a pun on the Japanese order of saying her name, Shinozaki Ai) is to produce an AI construct that mimics the model’s appearance, voice, mannerisms, and even personality. For that last component, they envision a system which analyzes the human Shinozaki’s Twitter account, thus keeping up to date on her expressed interests and recent experiences.

The planners tout that the AI would allow fans to talk with the AI Shinozaki at any time by accessing it through their PC or smartphone, giving them an unparalleled level of access to a celebrity. There would be benefits for Shinozaki and her talent agency, Shining Will, as well. Once completed, the AI Shinozaki could be uploaded to display boards in tourist destinations or shopping centers to serve as a guide or spokesmodel. Another possible revenue stream would be having the AI host radio programs and carry on conversations with listeners who call in, even when the real Shinozaki’s schedule doesn’t allow her to do so in-person.

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If they can secure enough funding, the designers hope to create a 3-D model of Shinozaki, but for their proof-of-concept video, the visuals are closer to a still photograph. There’s some limited animation, though, and the team is astute enough to know that adding movements that show Shinozaki breathing and blinking go a long way in making the AI seem much more lifelike.

This being a prototype, though, there are a few wrinkles that need to be smoothed out. The synthesized voice sounds pretty artificial, although it’s easy to understand what the AI Shinozaki is saying as it introduces itself and answers questions like, “What are your favorite foods?” (the answer, by the way, dried squid and strawberry Pocky, sort of has us wondering if AI programs can get pregnant). Those audio issues, though, should be easy to sort out by getting Shinozaki into the studio to record a more extensive selection of vocabulary and inflections.

The bigger concern is that, at this stage, the AI Shinozaki’s uncanny valley is lined with marrow-chilling robo teeth.

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But still, this is just a mockup, not the final vision of what the project hopes to achieve. As of this writing, the Shinozaki AI crowdfunding campaign still has 55 days to go, and so far has raised 681,000 yen (US5,450) of the six million yen it’s seeking. Pledges can be made here, with tiers ranging from 1,000 to three million yen and rewards including one month of early access to the finished AI, being able to add suggestions for conversation patterns, and a seat at a yakiniku party with Shinozaki herself, whose real smile is no doubt more attractive than the one in the video.

Related: Shinozaki AI Project Green Funding campaign
Sources: IT Media, Shinozaki AI Project Green Funding campaign
Top image: Shinozaki AI Project Green Funding page
Insert images: Shining Will, Shinozaki AI Project Green Funding campaign, YouTube/ GREENFUNDING by T-SITE (edited by RocketNews24)