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Issue #27 – Playing With Reality – The Next Million Dollar NFT, Hyperreality and the Taliban, Deepfake-Style Marketing Clones and 3D Printed Wagyu Beef

Thijs Pepping
August 31, 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.

VISA Buys Cryptopunk

“Our excitement about this project is less about any individual Punk, and more about the CryptoPunk collection as a whole and what it represents — the beginnings of a new chapter for digital commerce. This is just the beginning. We’re eager to continue building our NFT collection and to support the diverse group of artists and creators working in this space.”
Is this a watershed moment for NFT?

Wagyu Beef Has Been 3D printed

“Japanese scientists have produced 3D-printed Wagyu beef with marbling ‘just like the real thing’. It was created using stem cells in a lab and, dare we say it, raises the steaks for consuming environmentally-conscious meat consumption.”
In the future, will we have a more sustainable future with widely available cultured meat? Will we replace the fake for the real?

Who’ll Make The Next Million-Dollar NFT?

“Projects like Cool Cats have become all the rage in the NFT space in the past few months, driven by the success of ludicrously valuable collections like CryptoPunks, some of which have sold for millions of dollars each. These projects typically follow the model CryptoPunks set back in 2017: they include 10,000 pieces, all of which are “programmatically generated” — randomized, basically, from a set of premade components like smirks, hats, mustaches, and T-shirts — and formatted as headshots, perfect for a profile picture on Twitter or Discord.”
Cryptopunks, Bored Apes, Pudgy Penguins, where will this end? Too much money is flowing into these NFT communities. Haven’;t we learnt anything from the ICO’s? When will the bubble pop?

People Are Hiring Out Their Faces

“Hour One is not the only company taking deepfake tech mainstream, using it to produce mash-ups of real footage and AI-generated video. Some have used professional actors to add life to deepfaked personas. But Hour One doesn’t ask for any particular skills. You just need to be willing to hand over the rights to your face.
This might be the easiest job ever, but do you really want to loose the copyright to your own face and become a deepfake-style marketing clones?

The Taliban Want You to Keep Your Phone On

“The Taliban understand that the information war is modern warfare. They are not trying to build a new platform; they’re trying to integrate into and dominate the existing landscape. […] The Taliban are not so much in the disinformation business as they are in the propaganda and self-promotion business. Their efforts until now have revolved around touting their victories and taunting their enemies. Their goal is to change the narrative.”
It’s Baudrillards’ hyperreality all over again, but this time it’s not the Americans that live in Disneyland, but the Taliban.

Thresholds of Artificiality

“The story of a human retreat from this world, either to the stars above or the virtual realm within, can mask a disregard for or resignation about what is done with the world we do have, both in terms of the structures of human societies and the non-human world within which they are rooted.”
It makes you wonder, if we believe too strong in the fake and don’t pay attention to the real that is surrounding us, how will this benefit our planet? Are we fleeing to the digital world because we can’t cope with the problems in the real world?

MUST WATCH: Interview With Arthur C. Clarke

Interview with author/futurist Arthur C. Clarke, from an AT&T-MIT Conference, 1976

The above interview is now going around on various social media channels. Very impressive how Arthur C. Clarke predicted the future we are now living in.


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. He specialized in Humanistic Counselling and Education at the University of Humanistics in Utrecht and worked for five years with autistic chi


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