Big tech and its war of avatars to push us into the metaverse

The Internet giants are launching a new “hype”, that of generative artificial intelligence. With ChatGPT or the Lensa application, AI imposes the visual culture of avatars supposed to prepare us for the metaverse.

Generative artificial intelligence (AI), we did not talk about it six months ago. These are computer programs capable of producing images from a simple description, or original texts from a short indication. ChatGPT has set the internet on fire. This AI is capable of answering questions in a reasoned way, composing music, and even writing an essay.

In just five days, more than a million people have registered to test this robot conversational. Screenshots of chats with him have gone viral on Twitter.

You may have noticed changes in your friends’ profile pictures on social networks, suddenly becoming princesses, space travelers or very kawaii manga characters, via the Lensa image editing application. from Prisma Labs.

This app uses your selfies and artificial intelligence to generate magical avatars in a variety of styles. But very quickly, the application shows a dark side.

>> Read also: The dark sides of the Lensa AI image editing app

Users have denounced a sexualization of the photos, with bare avatars and larger breasts than the original. Concerns have also been raised about the issue of data and their use.

Behind the scenes, a discreet war

Yet all this looks like a smokescreen. For the Internet giants, AI is now used to make us adhere to avatars and especially to manufacture them. Ads have gone under the radar. Internet giants are discreetly buying up companies developing generative AI. This market would have grown by 425% since 2020, to reach more than 2 billion dollars, according to Pitchbook quoted by the Financial Times.

Concretely, WhatsApp (owned by Meta, ex-Facebook) deployed 3D avatars this December. Users have the ability to create custom doubles, complete with colors, outfits, accessories, and facial expressions.

For its part, Google has acquired the start-up Alter, which has developed a solution for creating avatars using artificial intelligence technologies. An acquisition that amounts to approximately 100 million dollars.

Avatars, a strategy for entering the metaverse

Why this rush towards avatars that make us more beautiful, bigger and stronger? To sell us metaverse, of which it is a gateway. You have to be able to love your digital double to use it.

Case in point: when Horizon Worlds, Meta’s metaverse, launched, its boss Mark Zuckerberg became the laughingstock of the internet. His avatar, a trunk without legs, with the Eiffel Tower and the Sagrada Familia in the background, seemed to be drawn by hand.

Mark Zuckerberg’s avatar, when Horizon Worlds launched in 2022. [DR – Meta]

But we don’t mess with the metaverse. Very responsive, Mark Zuckerberg announced a major graphic overhaul, in order to keep control of communication: the avatars will have legs. The avatars (and their legs) are therefore a strategic issue.

A world of filters

For a long time, the representation of the human being aimed at resemblance. We have always admired paintings that are faithful to reality. But in the age of Instagram and Snapchat filters, the requirement for realism disappears. Self-representations are less and less realistic.

Slowly but surely, generative AI and its applications have succeeded in imposing this culture of the “altered” image. The salvation of the metaverse will perhaps pass through the visual success of the avatars. A good avatar is an avatar to which we adhere.

>> See also the CTRL+Z column on ChatGPT, the new discussion space with artificial intelligence:

CTRL+Z - ChatGPT, the new discussion space with artificial intelligence [RTS]

CTRL+Z – ChatGPT, the new discussion space with artificial intelligence / La Matinale / 4 min. / December 9, 2022

The digital world offers us the possibility of creating an identity that is not necessarily linked to our personal experience, or to our true personality. Thanks to digital doubles, we will no longer need to search for a better version of ourselves in real life. See you in the metaverse, in a few years.

Miruna Coca-Cozma



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Big tech and its war of avatars to push us into the metaverse


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