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Issue #33 – Playing With Reality

Thijs Pepping
October 12, 2021

On the 15th of October our new book “Real Fake – Playing with Reality in the Age of AI, Deepfakes and the Metaverse” will be published. Get on a rollercoaster of disinformation and media manipulation. From lying hieroglyphs to computer-generated influencers and the future of deepfakes. People have always felt the need to play with reality, but never before has it been so easy and believable as now. How do we keep a grip on the information society now that artificial intelligence is getting involved in the manipulation game? Unlike most books about fading realities, Real Fake looks beyond the doom scenarios. Using inspiring restoration stories and a new set of Reality Ethics, the authors of Real Fake outline a hopeful future for the playful human.

You can buy the book here or here (Dutch).

Justin Bieber Got Duped With A Tom Cruise Deepfake

“Pop star Justin Bieber was seemingly fooled on Thursday by a deepfake video of actor Tom Cruise. In numerous stories on his Instagram, Bieber praised the actor while sharing footage of what he believed was Cruise playing the guitar. […] But the video referenced by Bieber actually originates from the TikTok parody account @deeptomcruise, which has racked up more than 2.9 million followers for its hyper-realistic deepfakes since first debuting in February.”

Virtual Concerts Are Booming

Virtual performances are becoming more common and more sophisticated, with high-profile artists such as Ariana Grande, Easy Life and the Weeknd also among those to take to the digital stage despite the easing of pandemic restrictions. While in-person concerts began to pick up this summer, with ticket sales indicating strong demand from fans, industry executives say virtual gigs can be complementary to the much more lucrative live ones and are gaining traction as a new medium. […] Tickets to live-streamed concerts grossed $600 million in 2020.”

Is it Time To Hire A Chief Metaverse Officer?

“The metaverse, characterised by shared virtual spaces, ownership of digital goods, and decentralised data, promises new ways of communicating and marketing to customers, plus new revenue streams in the form of digital twins and in-game avatars. This new era is often considered the successor to the mobile web, with the potential to impact brands as the rise of social media did a decade ago. […] How a brand appears in the metaverse could help them make a successful splash, or risk alienating millions of loyal users. Now, a new need is emerging: someone who can oversee and integrate these projects.”

Future of Motion Capture Is Wearing Real People’s Faces

“People have criticized me before for saying it’s like digital makeup, but it is becoming that. I think you will be able to play someone from history from photogrammetry and have a real Abraham Lincoln’s face that you’re playing rather than a sculpted one. […] It would be possible for an actor of color to play Abraham Lincoln and for me, as a middle-class white man, to play Martin Luther King. The question is whether that is ethically right. Diversity is hugely important so I can understand sensitivities about this.”

By using synthetic media you can become anybody you like, but is it ethically right? I guess we are going to see a lot of discussion about impersonating somebody else. Are you allowed to take over the control of somebody’s likeness?

Sentient NFTs, A New Form Of Life

“aNFTs are autonomous NFTs. Imagine if your NFT could do things while you’re offline or asleep, without the need for running your own bot. aNFTs can create their own transactions — they can do arbitrary things under arbitrary conditions (both on-chain and off-chain actions and conditions, more on that later). For the first time ever, a non-human and non-human-controlled entity can make their own transactions on a blockchain.”

MUST WATCH: Squid Game American Casting

오징어 게임 미드 가상 캐스팅 Squid Game American casting version

By using Deepfake technologies the Korean actors have been replaced by American actors. Keanu Reeves is now the main character. Of course this is a gimmick, but it might point to a future where everybody is able to become the star of a new Hollywood blockbuster.

MUST WATCH: 60 Minutes on Deepfakes

How synthetic media, or deepfakes, could soon change our world

Synthetic media, better known as deepfakes, could be a goldmine for filmmakers. But the technology has already terrorized women who have had their faces inserted into pornography. And it could potentially disrupt society. A report from 60 Minutes.

MUST WATCH: How To Spot A Deepfake

Deepfakes: Knowing when a video is real


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.


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