Tribeca Extending Reality, Do Machines Learn the Way Children Do?
1. More Than Film: Tribeca Immersive
Formerly Tribeca Film Festival, Tribeca Festival has rebranded and embraced the shifting nature of the narrative arts in order to accommodate the immersive and digital arts. XR story-telling and a custom virtual world are taking center stage at Tribeca Immersive, which can be experienced in person at the festival and at home through VR headset.
One of the highlights is Terrence Malick and art collective Marshmallow Laser Feast’s premiere of Evolver, a VR experiential film that places participants in a mesmerizing representation of the human body and allows them to follow the flow of oxygen—and life—all the way to the cellular level. Narrated by Cate Blanchett and featuring music by Jonny Greenwood, Evolver represents the festival’s new curatorial vision: to feature future-forward storytelling and technology — the “meta story that captures the zeitgeist of a particular moment in time.”
You can check out the entire Tribeca Immersive website here.
2. Do Machines Learn the Way Children Do?
Google has placed a software engineer on leave for claiming that the company’s chatbot LaMDA is sentient. Blake Lemoine, the man in question, is both a scientist and a mystic Christian priest — and both sides of his personality feature in the debate he’s sparked. Google connected all its applications to LaMDA’s backend — meaning there’s a huge wealth of human behavior and knowledge at its disposal. The chatbot processes all that data in order to mimic human language patterns.
The problem is that because AI is trained on our behavior, it can learn our biases as well, like racism and sexism. However, Lemoine is convinced he could help it unlearn these biases. He believes based on his conversations with LaMDA that the AI is like a child he’s helping to raise. If he’s right, then we would need to view AI less like an input-output program and more like a student — a student with enormous computing power that still needs ethical direction.
What’s extraordinary is that a computing model can clearly elicit feelings in a human much like a child would. The computer-generated responses can make a person feel a real connection with the chatbot. And the more our technology can cause us to feel emotional connections with it, whether that’s AI avatars in a webspace or an interactive character in a video game, the more we have to expand our definition of intelligence and personhood.
3. Perfume In The Metaverse?
It’s not just sneakers anymore for RTFKT. The Nike-owned digital studio is collaborating with luxury fragrance brand Byredo to create customizable digital and physical perfumes. Working with Paris-based art directors M/M, Byredo and RTFKT are offering 26 digital ingredients that will be treated as digital collectibles. Collectors will be able to create unique fragrances from the digital ingredients. The new fragrances can then be physically produced and individually numbered with an NFC tag.
The creative element to this project, allowing collectors to effectively mint new fragrances, is an exciting step forward for luxury brands. In a way, we can all become digital alchemists. Luxury brands can democratize the creative process with virtual items, transforming them into physical products for real, everyday use.
4. Power To The User
Don’t get lost in the numbers. The two key words here are data and identity. And the key question is how to build a new iteration of the internet that gives users true control of their data and their online identity. Block CEO Jack Dorsey’s answer is so-called Web5. It aims to store personal data with you the user and not with a third-party application or platform.
Here’s how it might look: You create a blockchain wallet that securely manages your online identity, data, and password authorizations for external apps and connections. Your wallet is used to log in to various platforms, negating the need to make a new profile for each site you visit.
So, instead of a centralized third-party site like Twitter holding your data, a decentralized web node on blockchain keeps your data secure and your online identity under your control. Now you can switch apps whenever you want, taking your social persona with you.
Big questions remain about how to scale decentralized apps on blockchain. Nonetheless, decentralization and data independence remain a central part of the conversation about the future of the web.
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