Technology Is Becoming Indistinguishable From Reality
We’re living in an age of not just mass distractions, but information overload.
Recent studies show that the average person spends some 50 days of their lives each year online now. So much is being communicated so quickly, it’s becoming impossible to keep up and physically process it all. The UN’s World Health Organization just officially recognized burnout as a medical diagnosis. As the images in our media consumption are going by faster and faster, in the past two decades we have gone from commercials training our brains to accept piecemeal soundbites of information on television screens to computer platforms like Vine and Twitter training us to communicate in short time or character limits on smartphone screens.
It’s been said the way information is being presented in our digital world these days is coming at us in so many disjointed bits, that our brains are having a harder time making a cohesive picture out of it all. More and more people are only skimming the daily headlines and then they go away believing they’ve educated themselves on what’s going on in the world, with almost no historical context to speak of (outside of what’s politically expedient). And the more our brains try to process at the speed of our digital devices – devices which are speeding up faster and faster with each new version that comes out, which is also happening with increasing frequency – the more burned out we actually become.
When information overload is taken to its logical conclusion, it conditions a state of learned helplessness in most people, who bury their heads further in the ever-widening, endless array of blue-screened distractions to let others do their critical thinking for them.
As this information continues to overload us and burnout becomes epidemic, artificial intelligence is getting more and more sophisticated at impinging on the reality we experience through our visual and auditory senses that we’re now reaching the point that Elon Musk has been talking about for the past several years every time he has made a public appearance — the point where technology becomes indistinguishable from reality.
It’s 2019, and AI can now take a small sample and generate completely authentic text, speech, and videos of people’s faces superimposed on other people otherwise known as “deep fakes”. What’s more, this can be done in real-time. Certain generative AI networks can, after being fed thousands of images of people for example, synthesize completely believable pictures of brand new people — people who appear at a glance to be real, but who actually do not exist and have never existed. Yet another recently publicized AI program from Samsung can take just a single picture and make it talk.
Another great paper from Samsung AI lab! @egorzakharovdl et al. animate heads using only few shots of target person (or even 1 shot). Keypoints, adaptive instance norms and GANs, no 3D face modelling at all.
📝 https://t.co/SxnVfY72TT pic.twitter.com/GjVrJbejT0
— Dmitry Ulyanov (@DmitryUlyanovML) May 22, 2019
Meanwhile tech leaders like Musk are casually discussing a future where people will eventually grow so burned out, they’ll actually want to live in a simulation, Ready Player One-style. And why not. At this point, it’s really not that hard to imagine masses of human beings getting lost in a false reality that’s being billed as a techno-utopia.
Put all that tech together, and society is way past the Twilight Zone here. (Maybe that’s why they’ve recently rebooted the series…)
Once zero-latency 5G and virtual reality combine, well… we really haven’t seen anything yet.
Our reality is increasingly being manipulated and mediated by technology, and I think we as a human race are really starting to feel it. We are coming to a point in our post-post-modern society where seeing and hearing will not be believing. The old mantra will be rendered utterly worthless. The more we consider the sophistication of these technologies, the more it becomes clear that we are just scratching the surface at attempting to understand the real meaning of the phrase “post-truth world”. It’s not a coincidence this was an official topic at last year’s ultra secretive elite Bilderberg meeting, regularly attended by major Silicon Valley players including Google and Microsoft, either.
And as if just to prove my point, after I released the video above, someone animated my image to narrate my video.
— K (@QisFingYou) May 31, 2019
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” — Arthur C. Clarke