Issue #45 – Real Fake
On the 15th of October 2021 our book “Real Fake – Playing with Reality in the Age of AI, Deepfakes and the Metaverse” has been released. It is our take on synthetic media, deepfakes, fake news, conspiracy theories, memes, crypto, narrative economics, virtual humans, CGI influencers, vTubers, NFTs, DAOs, VR, Web 3.0, the Creator Economy and the Metaverse. 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.
Is A New Kind Of Religion Forming On The Internet?
“Algorithms are surfacing content that combines Christian ideas like prosperity gospel with New Age and non-Western spirituality — along with some conspiracy theories. […] Part of the draw of internet spirituality is that it’s perfectly pick-and-choosable […] ”
In other related news, “As Covid lockdowns closed churches, venture capital funding for religious, primarily Christian, apps have increased from $6.1 million in 2016 to $48.5 million in 2020 and $175.3 million in 2021.”
And “Struggling with grief? Too much debt? On the verge of divorce? Churches are ready to deliver a digital intervention, with help from Big Data.”
Must Read: Break the Internet
“Break the Internet is more than just a series of gonzo dispatches. It addresses the decline of traditional media, the philosophy of fame, the wild excess and inequality of late capitalism. “Shrinking newspaper circulations, rising scepticism towards experts, financial precarity, millennial burnout, and a shift towards viewing corporations, rather than governments, as responsible for solving social problems are all trends that have propelled – and in some cases been propelled by – the rise of influencing.”
This Was the Year When Finance Jumped the Doge
“GameStop had been a warning shot—Dogecoin showed that meme finance is here to stay, all the more so as cryptocurrency has now entered the mainstream. […] After Doge, all bets are off. Cryptocurrency enthusiasts—and companies like Visa— have splurged enormous sums on non-fungible tokens hypothetically associated with digital artwork, or with cartoons of bored apes, pixelated characters, fat penguins, and pet rocks. As metaverse hype reaches a fever pitch, plots of virtual land in juiced-up video games have sold for millions of dollars. Last month, a blockchain-based video game called Axie Infinity launched a cryptocurrency exchange that allows users to trade in-game currency with cryptocurrency and then state-backed money. All of this was partly driven by the playful YOLO mindset that had made GameStop happen in the first place.”
In related news: The Psychology of Meme Coins.
How NFTs Became A $40bn Market In 2021
“At the beginning of 2021, only a niche group of crypto enthusiasts knew what non-fungible tokens (NFT) were. By the end of the year, however, nearly $41bn had been spent on NFTs, according to the latest data, making the market for digital artwork and collectibles almost as valuable as the global art market. […] The unregulated space is also plagued by fraud, scams and market manipulation, especially because the real world identities of buyers and sellers is difficult, if not impossible, to discover.”
“NFT Replicas is an easy way to mint a replica of virtually any NFT! These replica NFTs are bit-identical to the original NFT and can be viewed in your crypto wallet, used as your avatar, or viewable on sites like OpenSea.”
So now you can buy a NFT of a NFT???
Web3: The Rise Of The Aligned Web
“What I call the adversarial web, also known as Web 2.0 or just web2, has characteristics we all know and hate — pervasive surveillance, fake news and disinformation (most egregiously from established media outlets and self-styled “disinfo researchers”), a moderation crisis, SPAM, advertorial, and the list goes on. My thesis is that most, or maybe even all, of web2’s negative characteristics arise from a misalignment of incentives that’s ultimately rooted in the quirks of how money flows around in it. The web that’s coming — what I’m calling the aligned web, and what most crypto enthusiasts are calling web3 — fixes this.“
The Decentralized Country
“Just as mechanical advancements gave rise to national systems, the technological revolution enables new structures. While the internet was the dominant force in the current shift, cryptocurrency represents the missing piece. Though much discussed, we remain in the early innings of understanding how profoundly the blockchain “vernacularizes” economics and empowers digital, censorship-free homesteading. The result will be a new kind of civilizational structure: decentralized countries. “DeCos” will operate above national borders in the digital realm.“
Play-to-earn and Bullshit Jobs
“In a crypto economy crowded with vapourware and alpha-stage software, Axie Infinity stands out. Not only has it amassed a large base of users, the in-game economy has actually provided a real-world income stream to working-class Filipinos impacted by the pandemic. Some spend hours each day playing the game, and then sell the in-game currency they earn to pay their real-world bills. That’s obviously a good thing for them, but it also appears to be a near-Platonic example of Graeber’s definition of a bullshit job.”
Interesting point of view. Playing a game is the new bullshit job.
The Metaverse Land Rush Is an Illusion
“The real estate of the future is plagued by buggy software, empty servers, and huge opportunities for abuse.”
The Metaverse’s Dark Side
“The world’s largest tech companies — Microsoft, Google, Apple and others — are hurtling headlong into creating the metaverse, a virtual reality world where people can have their avatars do everything from play video games and attend gym classes to participate in meetings. […] Yet even as tech giants bet big on the concept, questions about the metaverse’s safety have surfaced. Harassment, assaults, bullying and hate speech already run rampant in virtual reality games, which are part of the metaverse, and there are few mechanisms to easily report the misbehavior. […] Toxic behavior in gaming and in virtual reality is not new. But as Meta and other huge companies make the metaverse their platform of the future, the issues are likely to be magnified by the companies’ reach over billions of people. […] Misbehavior in virtual reality is typically difficult to track because incidents occur in real time and are generally not recorded.”
MUST WATCH: A Normal Person Explains Cryptocurrency
MUST WATCH: A Normal Person Explains NFTs
MUST WATCH: Inside Look At Deepfake Technology
“Digitally manipulated videos, images and audio are becoming increasingly common, making the fake part of “deep fakes” nearly impossible to detect. Now the man behind the account that has fooled millions of people is opening up about the sensation he created.”
MUST WATCH: Metaverse – The Most Evil Business in the World
Real Fake 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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About Thijs Pepping
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 children. His background in psychology and philosophy drives him to find meaningful answers to business related questions and to provoke whenever necessary. He is co-author of multiple publications on the impact of new technologies, such as ‘The FrankensteinFactor’, ‘AI First – Learning from the machine’, and ‘The Pursuit of Digital Happiness’ series. See labs.sogeti.com/research for his previous and current work. VINT provides practical insight into the likely impact and innovative applications of new technologies for organizations worldwide. This valuable intelligence helps public and private sector enterprises to anticipate and plan for the complex dynamics of the future. The use of new technological developments is aimed at generating value that anticipates future developments.
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