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Can humanity be recreated in the metaverse?

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Can humanity be recreated in the metaverse?

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Today, the internet is a mostly 2D platform that we consume through a screen. It is a command-line prompt for the reality we live in. Instagram posts, Tiktoks, text messages, emails and voice memos are all digital artifacts things people create and receive in the physical world. But this will change when the metaverse becomes so immersive and photo-realistic that physical reality extends into virtual spaces. Does this new hyperreality simply add features to the real world or does the real world become something more? It’s a question that is frequently explored in pop culture, from Star Trek’s holodeck to The Matrix. However, new technologies are rapidly turning science fiction into science fact and forcing us to question the limits of our reality.

Hyperreality is a concept that describes a simulation of reality that is indistinguishable from the real world — to the point where the distinction fades away. The idea emerged in the 90s as live TV coverage of the first Gulf War and other real-world events filtered into people’s homes. 24/7, live-streamed news footage of the war transported the reality of the battlefield into people’s homes for the first time in history. On the one hand, there were the physical events taking place in the Middle East, and on the other, the hyperreal televised version was playing out in living rooms across the globe. 

Today, we experience hyperreality every time we use an Instagram filter, swap faces on Snapchat, or watch a Hollywood blockbuster with high-quality CGI (computer-generated imagery) and VFX (visual effects). Hyperreal content blurs the line between reality and its virtual representation to the point that the distinction becomes less important than the experience itself. This may sound spooky in the abstract, but hyperreal content is a potent storytelling medium that can be used to delight audiences in new and surprising ways. 

Until recently, hyperreal content has been challenging and expensive to create. It required teams of VFX experts toiling for months at vast expense to create a few minutes of CGI. Recent advances in AI, however, have made it easier than ever to create hyperreal content that is both inexpensive and photorealistic. This has given rise to “synthetic content” that is created by generative AI algorithms with limited human collaboration. Anyone can make their own synthetic media today by taking a selfie and uploading it to a smartphone app that uses AI to do face swaps or (de)aging. It is only a matter of time before regular people can put themselves in movies, games, and other immersive content experiences. 

Over the next ten years, the metaverse will develop toward immersive experiences in hyperreal virtual environments populated with avatars that look and sound exactly like us. Today, nearly all of the avatars and virtual environments in the metaverse are painstakingly created by artists and creators as digital renderings. Virtual goods — from luxury goods to avatars — look amazing, creative, and playful. But they are not photo-realistic or exact digital twins of items we actually own in the real world. In order to scale personalized content experiences to billions of people, AI generative models will use data from the world around us to render hyperreal immersive experiences, objects and identities that are a seamless extension of our lived reality. 

Hyperreality could be the missing piece of the puzzle for bringing billions of regular people into the metaverse. Everyone wants deeply personalized and engaging content on-demand, and generative AI enables hyperreal content to reach internet scale. This is important if we ever hope for the metaverse to have as many users as the internet because human content creators will never be able to create enough hyperreal avatars and content experiences on their own. But if we collaborate with AI, we can leverage data pulled in from the physical world to create hyperreal synthetic media at scale. Given how rich in detail the physical world is, AI will be critical to making the metaverse an authentic and truly representative extension of reality.

But why might the metaverse be hyperreal? There are two very human reasons: 

First, immersive content featuring photo-realistic avatars and virtual spaces allows more authentic and emotionally engaging experiences for people. This will open up a metaverse beyond gaming and entertainment to include virtual doctor’s appointments, classrooms, and workspaces. Family reunions won’t be limited to grainy video over a Zoom call. Instead, they will play out in hyperreal, immersive 3D environments. Face-to-face meetings will always be special, but with immersive hyperreal content, we can get much closer to the same quality of experience. 

Second, we have spent our whole lives crafting our identities in real life, and creating multiple new online identities is exhausting. While the metaverse is a great place to become a new version of yourself, it is easier to start with who you are already and build from there. Hyperreal technologies lower the barriers of entry for regular people that want to have everyday human experiences in virtual environments.

Challenges

The hyperreal metaverse is full of possibilities, but also presents serious ethical challenges that cannot be ignored. First and foremost, we must strive for a metaverse that empowers the individual. Unlike big tech platforms that have left many feeling like they have little control of their personal data, participants in the metaverse must own and control their biometric data that is used as inputs to generate hyperreal versions of themselves. In this respect, blockchain technologies — and NFTs in particular — are key to securely realizing this new era of individual data sovereignty and enabling verifiably unique, secure, and self-custodied digital identities. By linking our hyperreal avatars and biometric data to blockchain wallets, we will be one step closer to taking control of our hyperreal identity in the metaverse.

The hyperreal metaverse will herald a future where real and virtual worlds collide. As generative AI technologies continue to rapidly evolve, it’s only a matter of time until our new digital worlds are indistinguishable from our physical reality. It’s an exciting vision full of possibilities for more inclusive and diverse virtual spaces that are enabled through the right mix of ethical design, user control, and creative uses of technology. The seeds of this future are being planted right now: how it will come to fruition is yet to be seen.

Tom Graham is CEO and cofounder of Metaphysic.

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FIFA 23 lets you turn off commentary pointing out how bad you are

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FIFA 23 lets you turn off commentary pointing out how bad you are
A player shouldering the ball



(Image credit: EA)

FIFA 23 might be the best game soccer game yet for terrible sports fans, as it lets you turn off commentary that criticizes your bad playing.

Now that the early access FIFA 23 release time has passed, EA Play and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers can hop into the game ahead of its full release. But as Eurogamer (opens in new tab) spotted, they’ll find a peculiar option waiting for them.

FIFA 23 includes a toggle to turn off ‘Critical Commentary’. The setting lets you silence all negative in-match comments made about your technique, so you can protect your precious ego even when you miss an open goal or commit an obvious foul. The more positive commentary won’t be affected. 

Spare your feelings

A player dribbling the ball in FIFA 23

(Image credit: EA)

The feature looks tailored toward children and new players, who don’t want to have their confidence wrecked within mere minutes of picking up the controller. But even experienced players who just so happen to be terrible at the game might benefit.

It’s not perfect, though. According to Eurogamer, the feature didn’t seem to work during a FIFA Ultimate Team Division Rivals match, with critical comments slipping through the filter. Still, who hasn’t benefited from a light grilling every now and then?

Polite commentary isn’t the only new addition in FIFA 23. It’s the first game in the series to include women’s club football teams, and fancy overhauled animations that take advantage of the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S’s new-gen hardware. EA will be hoping to end on a high, as FIFA 23 will be the last of its soccer games to release with the official FIFA licence.

If disabling critical commentary doesn’t improve your soccer skills, maybe building a squad of Marvel superheroes will. Although you might not do much better with Ted Lasso wandering the pitch.

FIFA 23 is set to fully release this Friday, September 30.

Callum is TechRadar Gaming’s News Writer. You’ll find him whipping up stories about all the latest happenings in the gaming world, as well as penning the odd feature and review. Before coming to TechRadar, he wrote freelance for various sites, including Clash, The Telegraph, and Gamesindustry.biz, and worked as a Staff Writer at Wargamer. Strategy games and RPGs are his bread and butter, but he’ll eat anything that spins a captivating narrative. He also loves tabletop games, and will happily chew your ear off about TTRPGs and board games. 

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Google Pixel 7 price leak suggests Google is totally out of touch

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Google Pixel 7 price leak suggests Google is totally out of touch
The backs of the Pixel 7 and the Pixel 7 Pro



(Image credit: Google)

We’re starting to hear more and more Google Pixel 7 leaks, with the launch of the phone just a week away, but tech fans might be getting a lot of déjà vu, with the leaks all listing near-identical specs to what we heard about the Pixel 6 a year ago.

It sounds like the new phones – a successor to the Pixel 6 Pro is also expected – could be very similar to their 2021 predecessors. And a new price leak has suggested that the phones’ costs could be the same too, as a Twitter user spotted the Pixel 7 briefly listed on Amazon (before being promptly taken down, of course).

Google pixel 7 on Amazon US. $599.99.It is still showing up in search cache but the listing gives an error if you click on it. We have the B0 number to keep track of though!#teampixel pic.twitter.com/w5Z09D28YESeptember 27, 2022

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According to these listings, the Pixel 7 will cost $599 while the Pixel 7 Pro will cost $899, both of which are identical to the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro starting prices. The leak doesn’t include any other region prices, but in the UK the current models cost £599 and £849, while in Australia they went for AU$999 and AU$1,299.

So it sounds like Google is planning on retaining the same prices for its new phones as it sold the old ones for, a move which doesn’t make much sense.


Analysis: same price, new world

Google’s choice to keep the same price points is a little curious when you consider that the specs leaks suggest these phones are virtually unchanged from their predecessors. You’re buying year-old tech for the same price as before.

Do bear in mind that the price of tech generally lowers over time, so you can readily pick up a cheaper Pixel 6 or 6 Pro right now, and after the launch of the new ones, the older models will very likely get even cheaper.

But there’s another key factor to consider in the price: $599 might be the same number in 2022 as it was in 2021, but with the changing global climate, like wars and flailing currencies and cost of living crises, it’s a very different amount of money.

Some people just won’t be willing to shell out the amount this year, that they may have been able to last year. But this speaks to a wider issue in consumer tech.

Google isn’t the only tech company to completely neglect the challenging global climate when pricing its gadgets: Samsung is still releasing super-pricey folding phones, and the iPhone 14 is, for some incomprehensible reason, even pricier than the iPhone 13 in some regions. 

Too few brands are actually catering to the tough economic times many are facing right now, with companies increasing the price of their premium offerings to counter rising costs, instead of just designing more affordable alternatives to flagships.

These high and rising prices suggest that companies are totally out of touch with their buyers, and don’t understand the economic hardship troubling many.

We’ll have to reach a breaking point sooner or later, either with brands finally clueing into the fact that they need to release cheaper phones, or with customers voting with their wallets by sticking to second-hand or refurbished devices. But until then, you can buy the best cheap phones to show that cost is important to you.

Tom’s role in the TechRadar team is to specialize in phones and tablets, but he also takes on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working in TechRadar freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist. Outside of TechRadar he works in film as a screenwriter, director and producer.

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DisplayMate awards the “Best Smartphone Display” title to the iPhone 14 Pro Max

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DisplayMate awards the “Best Smartphone Display” title to the iPhone 14 Pro Max

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