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Issue #26 – Playing With Reality – The One-Person Unicorn, No More Lonely Friends, Deepfake Business Pitches and Transmedia Universes

Thijs Pepping
August 24, 2021

It’s official: the full title of our upcoming book is “Real Fake – Playing with Reality in the Age of Artificial Intelligence”.

“Real Fake” is our take on synthetic media and the follow-up to our 2008 book “Me the Media”. Real Fake 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.

The Rise of the One-Person Unicorn

“The way we build startups is changing, and with that change comes the rise of a new breed of company: bootstrapped, cash generative, and growing like crazy. […] Software didn’t just eat the world; it spewed out a new one. The internet enabled us to build an intangible global economy, and software is both the mechanism, and much of the output. […] It probably also means we’re in a vanguard of builders and that, in theory, we’ll see one-person unicorns. Profitable, powerful businesses that are also (thanks to MicroAcquire) liquid and tradable assets in and of themselves.”

Now Going Viral: Meeting Online Friends in Real Life

“Marissa Meizz became a TikTok meme after her friends excluded her from a birthday party. She decided to do something about it. […] Ms. Meizz started No More Lonely Friends, an online community of people looking to make friends in real life, or IRL, meet-ups across the country. Ms. Meizz has since held meet-ups in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Washington, Philadelphia and elsewhere. The events are free and open to anyone. Though the crowd skews young, hundreds of attendees of all ages have showed up as word of the events has spread through TikTok’s “For You” page, which is powered by the app’s recommendation algorithm.”

Deepfakes Are Now Making Business Pitches

“New corporate tools require new lingo: EY calls these its virtual doubles ARIs, for artificial reality identity, instead of deepfakes. Whatever you call them, they’re the latest example of the commercialization of AI-generated imagery and audio, a technical concept that first came to broad public notice in 2017 when synthetic and pornographic clips of Hollywood actors began to circulate online. Deepfakes have steadily gotten more convincing, commercial, and easier to make since.”
Mmm, makes your wonder. Are these deepfakes exciting enough to watch or are they the new synthesized version of Powerpoint?

Teens Cash In on the NFT Art Boom

“For some teenagers, making NFTs and other forms of digital art has become the new summer job, a modern take on bagging groceries or working at a fast-food restaurant. […] Understanding NFTs and their value as digital objects comes naturally to a generation raised online. […] These kids are pretty savvy. They can look at other drops and model their work after it. If you’re young and you get social media and meme culture, it is possible for you to go viral with your first drop and get attention and make money.”
And it’s no only jobs for teenagers. In the near future we will all be working on blockchain games, crypto brand strategies and virtual character storylines…

New Way of Storytelling

Story telling has been evolving from fictional worlds into transmedia universes. These universes are now expanding into gaming, the fastest growing and “always on” medium. Now imagine the Internet as a game we’re all playing. Big difference between this and other CU’s is that we all have presence / digital real estate here. It is our shared universe we live, work, play in.“
This is one of main messages of our new book Real Fake. Synthetic media is providing new digital tools to tell new kind of stories. And not only stories, but complete new worlds and realities.

AI Gave Val Kilmer His Voice Back

“Hollywood actor Val Kilmer lost his natural voice after a surgery for throat cancer in 2015, shattering his career and permanently altering the way he communicates. That is, until late last year when Sonantic, a U.K.-based software firm that clones voices for actors and studios, helped Kilmer to speak again.

Hear Val Kilmer’s AI voice – Sonantic

MUST WATCH: How NFTs Are Reinventing The Digital World

How NFTs Are Reinventing the Digital World

MUST WATCH: Black Myth: Wukong

Black Myth: Wukong – Official Unreal Engine 5 Gameplay Trailer

Wow. The trailer for Black Myth is made with the help of Unreal Engine 5. And it’s extremely realistic. Think about what these developments mean for game designers and movie makers!

MUST WATCH: The Sandbox Metaverse

Sandox Metaverse


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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