Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Surveillance Capitalism Crosses the Uncanny Valley

Me playing with the CUBO CC Girl (28 March 2008). Video Source: Youtube.

On the Youtube series, Deep Web Browsing, gamer host Mutahar stumbled in Episode 59 (here) across a Brazilian 'post-advertising' agency, cubo.cc, with a site on the Dark Web and supposed offices in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and New York City. Cubo CC claims it is part of the 'creative disruption network.' You can see what (I think) is one of their 2008 disruptive marketing products above, CUBO CC Girl, an interactive CGI girl who follows your cursor in real time. Forum members on Hacker News tried to trace this project's design and origins. You can see a similar 2008 project from Image Metrics, below.

The Emily Project from Image Metrics (2008). The project is explained here. Image Source: HDimagelib.

Meet Emily - Image Metrics Tech Demo (HQ) (2008) (18 August 2008). Video Source: Youtube.

The CUBO CC Girl and the projects at Image Metrics easily cross the Uncanny Valley, and look like a precursor of the technology now, which can perfectly mimic world leaders (and anyone else) in fake, convincing footage.

TURNED Zombie App by Image Metrics (8 March 2016). Video Source: Youtube.

L'OREAL Makeup Genius Image Metrics Digital Strategy (6 March 2015). Video Source: Youtube.

Here are some applications developed by Image Metrics. One was for zombie films and animation. In May 2014, L'Oréal lauched a 'mobile augmented reality make-up simulator.' This app allowed customers to test different make-up looks on their own faces on their smartphones. Another app, 'Nissan Die-Hard Fan', had similar functions for sports fans.

Nissan Diehard Fan - Nations powered by Image Metrics (4 August 2016). Video Source: Youtube.

Researchers at Stanford and the Max Planck Institute for Informatics extended the technology into the political sphere in 2016: all they need is a video sample and some audio samples of an individual. They can produce perfect fake CGI footage of that person being interviewed and saying anything they want.

Face2Face: Real-time Face Capture and Reenactment of RGB Videos (CVPR 2016 Oral) (17 March 2016). Video Source: Youtube.

This means that our leaders can be simulated to say anything. Soon, they will be able to fake footage of active bodies moving through convincing environments, not just talking heads. And then we will really be in trouble. This outcome was predicted in Philip K. Dick's 1964 novel, The Simulacra. The original paper by Matthias Niessner and others on the topic was: Face2Face: Real-time Face Capture and Reenactment of RGB Videos (2016). Niessner posts updates on Youtube as he perfects his work; you can see my earlier blog post on his work, here.

Introducing Echo Look. Love your look. Every day. (26 April 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

Julian Assange tweets "This is how it ends." | Amazon Echo Look" #JulianAssange #Wikileaks (27 April 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

Consider the implications for the broader public. They can make our leaders say anything; but they can make us say or do anything too. In an increasingly competitive, reputation-driven environment, imagine the possibilities for being framed or blackmailed. The apps launched for members of the public ask them to upload images and videos of their faces and bodies into the network.

This is an extension of the selfies craze, which supported the worldwide implementation of facial recognition software. Tech Crunch remarked in 2014: Smile: Your Selfie is a Mugshot for the NSA. In 2017, Amazon launched the gadget the Echo Look, which photographs you getting dressed and helps you decide what to wear. It potentially could stay on and keep recording, even when users think it is switched off. News.com.au commented: "we’re 'sleepwalking into surveillance capitalism.'" As these corporations and governments complete a virtual profile of every person currently connected to the Internet, one can see the potentials for movies, politics, advertising, news manipulation - and show trials.

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