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Issue #17 – Playing With Reality – The Year of the Avatar 🚀🔮🌟

Thijs Pepping
June 28, 2021

“Playing with Reality” is the title of our upcoming book on synthetic media and the follow-up to our 2008 book “Me the Media”. Playing with Reality is about how humans continuously manipulate reality and how new digital technology tools enable us to go one step further in this ancient game. This includes modern phenomena like conspiracy theories such as QAnon, Deepfakes, and fake news, but also virtual humans such as CGI Influencer Lil Miquela and virtual worlds like Fortnite.

How to Use The Disney Cartoon Face Filter on Snapchat

“Snapchat has launched a new Cartoon 3D Style lens that will allow users to transform their selfies into Disney or Pixar-like characters. According to the company, many Snapchatters have used this lens globally and it has been viewed more than 1.7 billion times.”
This brilliant filter shows how easy it is to create a Pixar-like movie by yourself. No camera crew is needed. It’s just you and a smartphone. It’s Hollywood to the home. 2021 will be the year of the avatar.

Uberduck.AI Replicates Famous Voices

“If you’ve ever dreamed of making songs with Tupac or Jay-Z, an AI tool called Uberduck can take you close to fulfilling your fantasies. Uberduck is one of a range of tools that lets you choose a celebrity voice and then enter text for them to speak. What sets it apart from the others is it can do a pretty impressive job of replicating a rapper’s flow.”

Try out Uberduck for yourself. It’s quacking good!

Can a $110 Million Helmet Unlock the Secrets of our Mind?

“Over the next few weeks, a company called Kernel will begin sending dozens of customers across the U.S. a $50,000 helmet that can, crudely speaking, read their mind. Weighing a couple of pounds each, the helmets contain nests of sensors and other electronics that measure and analyze a brain’s electrical impulses and blood flow at the speed of thought, providing a window into how the organ responds to the world.”

By 2030 the price of the device should be in the smartphone range and every American household should have a helmet… What could possibly go wrong??? Read the complete article about this device on Bloomberg.

Why Do People Want Jeff Bezos to Buy and Eat the Mona Lisa?

“An online petition that started as a joke has gone viral, becoming a kind of digital performance art piece all of its own. […] It’s a statement about the absurdity of massive amounts of accumulated wealth, as well as the bizarreness of the current internet era.”
It’s a great example of the YOLO FOMO LOL economy that we’ve discussed before.

Clothes That Don’t Exist Are Worth Big Money in the Metaverse

“Of course the fashion world is interested in NFTs: In an industry obsessed with authenticity and exclusivity, a token that guarantees precisely those qualities makes perfect sense. Just how much sense you find in the digital clothes authenticated by those non-fungible tokens, meanwhile, probably depends on how you feel about the metaverse. […] People are increasingly valuing virtual goods just as they value real-world goods, so NFTs can almost emulate that form of traditional ownership.”

CNN Makes Moments From History Available For Purchase With NFTs

“For 41 years, CNN has gone to extraordinary lengths to document and broadcast the global stories of our time. Now, the network and digital news powerhouse is opening its archives for the first time to offer collectors the opportunity to own a piece of history. The initial launch will include six weekly drops of Moments, starting in late June 2021. Offerings will include key historical moments organized around specific themes including early CNN exclusives, world history, and Presidential Elections.”
You can own a piece of history by registering on Just a minor warning, it will probably cost you a fortune.

Social Media Are Turbocharging the Export of America’s Political Culture

“America’s films, television and music are loved everywhere. Its consumer brands are world-beating. Its social-media stars have global influence. As the world’s most powerful country, with huge cultural reach, it has always had a hefty impact on political trends and movements. […] The internet promised to help information flow around the world. But social media and their algorithms have just amplified America’s voice.”

Revisit The Reality Show

On the 15th of June 2021 we organized our yearly summit. This year we tried to answer the question how digital technology is changing our relationship with reality. More than 1000 people have already watched our show. So if you want to know more about deepfakes, virtual humans, cgi influencers, synthetic media, AR, VR and mixed reality, then please watch our show.

New Book

Last week the cover was chosen for our Dutch book “Echt Nep”, a positive book about deepfakes, synthetic media, conspiracy theories, CGI influencers, immersive storytelling, NFTs and the metaverse. The book will be published in autumn of this year. We are als currently working on on English version called “Real Fake”. We will keep you updated in the coming weeks! You can pre-order our book at the website of Bot Publishers.


Playing with Reality is a weekly newsletter in which SogetiLabs’s Research Institute VINT examines the future where synthetic reality becomes part or our objective reality. We investigate the impact of new technology on people, organisations and our society. If you have any questions or comments, do not hesitate to contact us. You can reach us at

About the author

Trend Analyst VINT | Netherlands
Thijs Pepping is a humanistic trend analyst in the field of new technologies. He is part of the think tank within SogetiLabs and in his work he continuously wonders and analyses what the impact of New Technologies is on our lives, organizations and society.


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