Spatial News™ #036
Updated: Jan 12
This week we focus on metaverse, Gartner hype cycle, VR/AR telepresence, NFTs & IP, Web3 bots, text-to-image AI, text-to-video AI, Théâtre D'opéra Spatial, The Crow, FN Meka, & more!
Spatial News™: Enter the 36th chamber! “The game of chess, is like a sword fight. You must think first, before you move.” (from the 1983 kung fu flick Shaolin and Wu Tang famously sampled by the RZA in Wu Tang Clan’s “Da Mystery of Chessboxin’”)
‘Metaverse’enters the Gartner hype cycle
Check out Antony Vitillo’s (aka SKARREDGHOST) primer on the Gartner hype cycle and his breakdown of Gartner’s 2022 outlook on emerging technologies.
“The metaverse has entered the Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, together with other related technologies like digital humans and web3. This is an amazing endorsement for it, considering the importance and the reputation of the Hype Cycle. But the outlook for it to become mainstream is 10+ years, which shows once more how the road for it is still long and complicated.”
The Gartner Hype Cycle for 2022 (Image by Gartner)
While we’re riding the rollercoaster with no brakes, let’s take a look at some of the passengers.
A peek at the future of the photorealistic metaverse
Swedish XR community builder and CEO of VRS Media Production, Niclas Johansson shares three different pieces of research related to presentations at SIGGRAPH 2022 that give a “few glimpses into the (near?) future of VR/AR telepresence” and “VR/mixed reality headsets”.
Complete Codec Telepresence The use of NeLFs (Neural Lightfields) to provide “fully natural dynamic lights/shadows on both avatars and environments”
Neural 3D Video Synthesis from Multi-view Video A “novel approach for 3D video synthesis”
Authentic Volumetric Avatars From a Phone Scan Generate photo-realistic avatars from a phone scan
The future is presence! (I can whip up a bad slogan for you on the cheap.)
A Survey of Major NFT Licenses
Sound boring? Don’t let the straightforward title dissuade you from reading it.
“While there is no requirement that NFT issuers specifically confer full intellectual property rights to purchasers (and in some cases perhaps there should not be), the lack of intellectual property rights undermines grand pronunciations by NFT and Web3 promoters that this technology will revolutionize digital ownership[…] To achieve a true digital ownership future requires action:
NFT holders should fight for their IP rights.
These agreements must be fixed now for Web3 to have a chance.
The decentralized metaverse requires intellectual property rights.”
Dig in. #DYOR
(Shared by Peter Speroni, his original LI post is worth a read, too. He captures the issue concisely.)
The team at Jigger analysed over 60 Web3 games and services and found 200,000 bots. Basically, every P2E ‘game’ has an average of 40% bots.
”It's a sad indictment that these numbers are the main metric of success’ for investors, and also stats that fool retail investors into parting with their money[…] this stuff should be embedded within every pitch deck and web3 game website or token launchpad to promote authenticity.”
One commenter in Theo’s post called these “Web3 NPCs”. What would you call them?
If you want to dig in deeper to Jigger’s findings go to their Twitter thread on the topic.
Bots are everywhere…
What You Need to Know About Text-To-Image AI
Text-to-image models using DALL·E and Midjourney are all the rage on social media.
To put it simply, if one inputs a description (say, “a beige Chihuahua dressed up as Superman fighting a black kitten dressed up as Doomsday in a ravaged city”), then the AI generates an image matching that description. And it can render the picture in any style from photo-realistic to cartoonish to abstract.
I haven’t tried it yet, but it looks like fun.
Being that this is all new tech, there are some problems like the need “for a tighter filtration process to remove questionable content, and better curated and comprehensive data sets” and the “replication of prevailing social biases and stereotypes” that still need to be addressed.
One article puts it even more strongly.
AI Creating ‘Art’ Is An Ethical and Copyright Nightmare
For one, “hundreds and thousands of copyrighted creative works from all kinds of creative professionals” are being used in datasets to train the algos. For artist Jon Juárez, who has worked with Square Enix and Microsoft, “These platforms are washing machines of intellectual property.”
Floris Didden, art director at Emmy-award winning studio Karakter, sees it differently.
“[L]et’s not pretend we [artists] don’t massively feed off each other[…] To my mind the programmer is doing the same thing through the use of the AI they created. “I don’t think legally speaking your copyright was violated when your art was fed into an AI, but I do think morally they owe you something[…] I just don’t know how to legally enforce that.”
On the upside, for some artists like Didden, these tools can be very helpful in assisting them by providing visual references and inspiration.
Still for the author, “[a]t the heart of this entire conundrum looms the false equivalency of even calling what an AI generates ‘art’. Art is inherently human[…] A machine is not creating art. A machine… is crunching data.”
Until we have our Bicentennial Man moment (definitely worth a read, even worth a watch) I tend to agree.
In the meantime, both text-to-image and text-to-video AI creations are already winning awards.
Théâtre D'opéra Spatial
winner of the Colorado State Fair’s fine arts competition. After you read about that and what other artists think about the piece winning, watch the winner of the Jury Award at Cannes Short Film Festival,
“In this animation, artificial intelligence is used to transform a dancer into a crow. The result is a haunting and compelling piece that follows the crow through its brief dance in a landscape of post-apocalyptic barrenness, to its inevitable demise.”
From dancing crows to minstrel shows…
FN Meka Is Just the Beginning
Have you heard of the monstrosity called FN Meka?
Summary: “Robot rapper” with a crazy soc. med. following in the many millions gets signed to Capitol Records but is dropped two days later after a backlash for the ages.
Why the backlash? First, look at it.
Image via publicist
Why does it have a jockstrap cup for a chin? Mysterious.
Anyhow, pass the surface level,
“FN Meka (and the probable emergence of more characters like him) exacerbates concern about where the music industry is headed, highlighting larger issues of tone deafness, lack of creativity, and the industry’s toxic capitalistic infrastructure.”
‘Is headed’? Isn’t that what pop music (any genre) has been for decades? (Except for the 80’s, that’s the Coke of pop.) But I digress.
“FN Meka is a mindless creation designed by two non-Black executives [Brandon Le and Anthony Martini of virtual record label Factory New] that leans into stereotypes that hurt the real Black artists and the Black community as a whole.
‘Mindless’? How about careless, as in, the creators could care less.
Catherine D. Henry of Media Monks captures it:
FN Meka “uses the N-word and gets ‘beat up’ by police: who thought this was a good idea? Fabricating police brutality and inflaming stereotypes is not just incendiary, it's irresponsible!”
While the creators at Factory New threw caution to the wind and chucked feces at the fan, the folks responsible at Capitol Records saw a billion TikTok views then must have seen green.
Sure, Capitol for its part went on record saying, “For our company to approve this shows a serious lack of diversity and resounding amount of tone deaf leadership. This is simply unacceptable and will not be tolerated.” (Well written, PR person! I especially like the “resounding amount of tone” part.)
So will heads roll at Capitol as punishment?
Besides the unsurprising, but still pretty nasty, minstrel show/blackface/culture vulturism of it all, on the tech side of things,
“This isn't AR (Augmented Reality) [like the article states]. It isn't AI (Artificial Intelligence). It's maybe just barely but probably not yet exactly VB (Virtual Beings). It might be fair to say that its Virtual Artists, except that it should involve the crediting not the erasure, of the actual Artist involved (both Kyle The Hooligan & the entire VFX art/anim crew),”
Call me a dystopian (I mean, I love 1984 and Blade Runner and write about the metaverse and Web3 for fun, so…) but I think Jessica McKinney, the article’s author, may be right, this is just the beginning. At least, I can see a tried and true strategy: shock audiences until they are desensitized, then do what thou wilt.
<End on a lighter note>
Oops, we’re out of time. See you next week, folks!
Thanks for peering into the future with us, Spatialists!
Joh of Spatial8, wondering when ‘new school’ Hip Hop like A Tribe called Quest and Big Pun started being called ‘old school’… and if Wu Tang Clan counts as cultural appropriation…