Soul Machines' Jack Nicklaus NFTs Include 'Digital Jack' Video – SportTechie
The 18-token NFT collection of Jack Nicklaus features one collectible for each of his record-setting 18 major golf championship victories.
Artificial intelligence company Soul Machines has partnered with Nicklaus Companies to launch an 18-token NFT collection of Jack Nicklaus, one collectible for each of his record-setting 18 major golf championship victories. The tokens will be sold on NFT platform Aspen and allow owners to access perks such as signed memorabilia, exclusive Nicklaus merchandise, and VIP access to tournaments founded by the golf legend such as the PGA Tour’s Memorial Tournament and Jack Nicklaus International Invitational.
NFT owners will become founding members of the Golden Bear Club, a new NFT membership program from the 82-year-old Nicklaus. Each of the 18 NFTs will also include a video from Digital Jack, the autonomously animated digital version of a 38-year-old Jack Nicklaus at the peak of his golf career that Soul Machines launched earlier this year. Soul Machines analyzed archived footage of Nicklaus to create his visual digital twin with motion capture technology to replicate his likeness, voice, facial movements, and mannerisms.
“I’ve had the privilege of meeting Jack [Nicklaus] in real life, but a lot of fans never get that. So this is an opportunity for fans to have a personal one-on-one interaction with Digital Jack,” says Greg Cross, CEO of New Zealand and San Francisco-based Soul Machines. “We’re launching a digital golf club. Jack and his team have launched golf clubs all over the world, people who play golf are used to belonging to a golf club. So creating the digital Golden Bear Club is another really exciting component part of this.”
Soul Machines markets its product as an autonomous “digital people” software. Cross co-founded the company in 2016 alongside Academy Award-winning visual effect specialist Mark Sagar, who has worked on movies such as Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), King Kong (2005) and Avatar (2009). Rapper Will.i.am and NBA star Carmelo Anthony have also launched digital twins in partnership with Soul Machines. Fans can ask Digital Jack about how he would play a particular hole on a specific golf course or questions related to his upbringing, family and career.
“Our AI is about animation, interaction and the behavioral responses,” Cross says. “We put a huge amount of effort into making sure that digital Jack behaves and responds and talks in same way that Jack does. The voice technology is completely synthetic AI voice technology. So [digital] Jack can speak in Japanese to his Japanese fans for the first time, or Korean to fans of golf in Korea,” adding, “this is a legacy project for Jack and his companies, brand and his family.”
Cross envisions digital avatars from Soul Machines being useful to businesses as digital helpers across medical, retail, teaching, and other industries, such as a digital retail avatar answering online questions from customers about a product or a digital nurse answering questions about a procedure. Soul Machines also has a partnership with Authentic Brands Group to create a digital Marilyn Monroe.
Artificial intelligence is currently having a mainstream moment through ChatGPT, the web chatbot that combs through internet content to produce detailed written responses to question prompts typed by the user. OpenAI, which lists Elon Musk as one of its co-founders, is the owner of ChatGPT.
“We work very closely with the guys at OpenAI and we’ve been experimenting with ChatGPT since they started making it available,” Cross says. “But there’s a line here that we think is really important because when you’re dealing with a celebrity like digital Jack Nicklaus or one of our corporate brands, brand content is always curated. If you’ve played with [ChatGPT], it can get into some pretty interesting topics pretty quickly. So this is not technology that’s ready for big brands to put to use in real life today. Brands want their digital representatives, their digital twins, digital influencers, to stay on brand and stay on topic.”
Photo credits: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
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