Issue #7 – Playing With Reality – Twerk Hero, Ponzi Career, Beauty Filters, Monkey Mindpong, NFT and Deepfake Porn🚀🔮🌟🤳

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“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.

It’s a long newsletter this time. A lot of things have happened last week. From monkeys playing video games with their mind, to Paris Hilton promoting NFT’s, to congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez performing sexual acts in deepfake videos. All of these news items have one thing in common: it’s all about how we are using digital technologies to manipulate the reality we are living in. We hope you enjoy this newsletter. If you like it, please leave a comment and feel free to share it with your peers!

Monkey Plays MindPong

Max Hodak, reality engineer with Neuralink, posted a video on his Twitter feed. In the video we can see Pager, a nine year old Macaque, playing the old PingPong game with his mind.  A Neuralink chip has been implanted in his brain that enables him to use his mind like a joystick. See also the blog for more details.

Monkey MindPong

Twerk Hero

Rapper Lil Nas X is back with a new single and everybody is talking about it. Last year he became famous with the release of his country rap single “Old Town Road”. Due to the #Yeehaw Challenge meme on TikTok it become one of the best selling singles of all time on the Billboard 100. Now he has released a controversial videoclip MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name). The song is seen by many as a valuable expression of queerness, though prominent conservative and Christian figures accuse Lil Nas X of sacrilege and devil worship. To promote his newest single he sold limited-edition custom Nikes called Satan Shoes that were modified with a drop of human blood. And now he’s released a game called ‘Twerk Hero’ where you have to shake your virtual butt to his new song, to gain points. He’s a marketing genius.

Twerk Hero
Twerk Hero

The Ponzi Career

The future of work is a pyramid scheme, where every person sells his favorite person to the next person. If you can attract enough people to buy your tokens, and they can attract enough people to buy even more tokens, the whole enterprise will continue to increase in value. This increase will happen regardless of how much revenue you can generate from doing your actual job. And it will continue until you run out of stories to tell, or until you run out of people to tell stories to.

The Ponzi CareerThe future of work is a pyramid scheme, where every person sells his favorite person to the next person.www.drorpoleg.com  •  Share

The Ponzi Career

Paris Hilton Is Excited About NFTs

“I see NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, as the future of the creator economy. They use blockchain technology to help creators increase the value of their work and share it with fans in real time. And blockchain technology will allow artists to get paid on secondary sales as well. That’s never happened before and it is mindblowing how much that can change things for artists.” Paris says she plans to go big  with NFTs, innovating, investing and collecting.

Why I'm Excited About NFTs - Paris Hilton
Why I’m Excited About NFTs – Paris Hilton
NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, allow me to innovate, empower others and push the boundaries of how I interact with my fans, my Little Hiltons.
parishilton.com  •  Share

What Critics Don’t Understand About NFTs

“The NFT craze, and the blockchains underlying it, lay bare the philosophical questions around why we treasure things beyond any tangible worth to us—and the leap of faith we indulge, wisely or otherwise, when we buy something not because of any innate worth to us but because we expect others to value it later. That its worth can arise through collective action is a testament to the unpredictability of human events—and a reminder that not everything in life gains value from top-down fiat.”

NFTs Show the Value of Owning the Unownable – The AtlanticThe complexity and arbitrariness of non-fungible tokens are a big part of their appeal.www.theatlantic.com  •  Share

NFTs Show the Value of Owning the Unownable - The Atlantic

Media & Tech: The Year In Review 2020

With dozens of VC deals, product launches, and corporate announcements every week, Media & Entertainment Tech is not easy to keep track of. The yearly review below is Maxime Eyraud’s attempt to unpack the most notable advancements and dive deep into the trends, initiatives, and companies pushing the industry forward. Packed with insights from analysts, operators, and investors from across the industry, they’re a great overview if you want to understand the current state of the market.

Maxime Eyraud – Media & Entertainment Tech ReviewRead my deep dive into the trends and companies pushing Media & Entertainment Tech forward.maximeeyraud.com  •  Share

Maxime Eyraud - Media & Entertainment Tech Review

How beauty filters took over social media

The most widespread use of augmented reality isn’t in gaming: it’s the face filters on social media. The result? A mass experiment on girls and young women.

Beauty filters are changing the way young girls see themselves | MIT Technology Review

Beauty filters are changing the way young girls see themselves | MIT Technology ReviewMillions of young women are using face filters to make themselves look different. What will the consequences be?www.technologyreview.com  •  Share

Is It A Fake Deepfake?

Experts are raising doubts that artificial intelligence was used to create a video that police are calling a “deepfake” and is at the center of an ongoing legal battle playing out in Pennsylvania. The incident made international news last month after the mother of a high school cheerleader was accused of manipulating images and video in an effort to make it appear as if her daughter’s rivals were drinking, smoking, and posing nude.

Hilltown Township Police Department TODAY/YouTube
Hilltown Township Police Department TODAY/YouTube

Inside the Twisted World of AOC Deepfake Porn

If your friend ever beckons you, with toothy grin and piggy eyes, turning his laptop towards you with a most grotesque yet enigmatic image—a video of congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez performing a sexual act—do not look my boy! Grab the nearest cucumber and smash it over your friend’s head, then submerge his laptop in some holy water. What your friend was attempting to show you, before you averted your righteous gaze, was an Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez deepfake.

Art by Tanzanian Wojak
Art by Tanzanian Wojak

Luxury Fashion Brands Poised To Join The NFT Party

Anything digital, from art to music to fashion can be turned into a unique NFT with its ownership recorded on a digital ledger, or blockchain. Proponents say that NFTs are the next evolution of digital fashion skins, which have already been embraced by luxury fashion brands. They claim that NFTs’s scarcity and ability to accrue value can bring digital fashion closer to real fashion.

Luxury fashion brands poised to join the NFT party | Vogue BusinessThe road to non-fungible token (NFT) riches is paved with question marks for luxury fashion brands.www.voguebusiness.com  •  Share

Luxury fashion brands poised to join the NFT party | Vogue Business

Revenge Of The Winklevii

After losing an epic battle with Mark Zuckerberg over ownership of Facebook and being shunned in Silicon Valley, CAMERON and TYLER WINKLEVOSS are back—this time as budding Bitcoin billionaires at the center of the future of money, the creative economy and quite possibly a new operating model for Big Tech itself.

Revenge Of The Winklevii
Revenge Of The Winklevii
After losing an epic battle with Mark Zuckerberg over ownership of Facebook and being shunned in Silicon Valley, CAMERON and TYLER WINKLEVOSS are back.
www.forbes.com  •  Share

I Called Off My Wedding. The Internet Will Never Forget

“Memories in photo apps should be an option, not a requirement, and they shouldn’t be activated by default. Apps should stop monetizing those memories, directly or otherwise. Algorithms should be more refined, so we’re not trailed by events we’d rather leave behind or nudged into experiences that we don’t really want. Timelines should actually consider the passage of time.”

I Called Off My Wedding. The Internet Will Never Forget | WIREDIn 2019, I made a painful decision. But to the algorithms that drive Facebook, Pinterest, and a million other apps, I’m forever getting married.www.wired.com  •  Share

I Called Off My Wedding. The Internet Will Never Forget | WIRED

Reading Tip: The Empathy Diaries – A Memoir

Sherry Turkle, a sociologist and psychologist who teaches at M.I.T., has described for decades – a world in which technology is “the architect of our intimacies.” At 72 years old she has now released her memoir The Empathy Diaries. It’s a must read, for everybody who’s working from home and using technology to connect with their peers: “When relationships are maintained through these technological channels, we share not ourselves but the story we want people to see. You don’t have to be an attention-hungry media influencer for this to be true; you just have to be someone who prefers to control how people see you—who fears the exposure of your flaws or frailties.”

Sherry Turkle’s Plugged-In Year | The New Yorker
Sherry Turkle’s Plugged-In Year | The New Yorker
The sociologist has critiqued our digital addictions. Now, like the rest of us, she’s been trapped behind her screens.
www.newyorker.com  •  Share

VINT Summit: The Reality Show

On the 15th of June 2021 we are organizing our yearly summit. This year we try to answer the question how digital technology is changing our relationship with reality. So if you want to know more about deepfakes, virtual humans, cgi influencers, synthetic media, AR, VR and mixed reality, please register yourself. And it’s free!

Contact

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 vint@sogeti.com.

Thijs Pepping

About

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.

More on Thijs Pepping.

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