24 Aug 2022

Metaquette #AI #MyBestFriendIsARobot Q16

 Weekly Tips & Tricks for negotiating The Metaverse with............Pooky Amsterdam

In 1971 George Lucas made his feature film directorial debut with the brilliant THX-1138, a science fiction masterpiece. Of the many memorable parts of this film, my favorite was a scene where Robert Duval's character needs solace and goes into a booth to speak with what I can only describe as an AI Saviour. The creators of the world Duval inhabited recognized the importance of this kind of conversation, this kind of encounter to alleviate emotional pain because the confessional for the soul is that important. By allowing for even this limited interaction of speaking with a thinking and feeling AI, that world was made a more hospitable place to live. 

Q: Can AI in The Metaverse help us level up as Human Beings?

What if we could enter the Metaverse and find companionship, interesting conversation and good ideas to help us function on not only this new virtual plane, but in all others? If being an avatar and meeting others wasn't dependent on finding another human being to interact with, but something that made us feel better about ourselves and gave us hope for the world we actually live in? With the announcement of Inworld receiving $50million to populate games with  Smart characters, we are these many steps closer to that reality. 

John Gaeta, who is one of the driving forces behind this interestingly enough, has worked at LucasFilm, but it is this comment from the article linked above which intrigues me, " ...What I want is for something to be unconditionally caring for me. The only way this is going to be really interesting is if it brings joy and is fun, and is not laborious or harmful."  When we ask ourselves what we want out of life, perhaps fun is certainly one of life's rewards. And fun which also contains a certain amount of accomplishment can be gained in increments, gained by building towards something. What if we are rewarded by AI in the games which we play to have a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world?

Something else which crossed my spectrum this week is Will Wright's new endeavor. Gallium Studios, which looks to mine our memories and, in some way, make them more tangible and perhaps even tradeable. Memories are unique to ourselves and the moment they were created in can also color so much. It will use blockchain technology, and these will exist virtually in the way that we can now begin to unpack so much online, so it is a new form of creation tool, and one which might be able to bring us together more as a species.

I am forever a fan of Will Wright because he was moved to help people create rather than kill. I am talking about his revelations around the first video game he invented, Raid on Bungeling Bay, please look at Legacy in this Wikipedia entry. While a 2D shooter game, he found that over time, there were people who were as committed to saving those who were wounded, to rebuilding hospitals, to saving other people and to building instead of destroying. And there were enough of them to open his eyes to the greater joy that people find in creation, and in helping one another. This epiphany led him to invent The Sims. There is something to be found in up-building rather than destruction. 

I hope that AI can feed this human need to be productive, rather than the opposite. I hope that AI will help us to find rewards within character building, in its traditional sense of building one's character, not just making a cool avatar. (Though cool avatars are amazing to inhabit!) 

In the quest to find the substantive grail of the human spirit, partially empathy which is seeing things from another's perspective, I am hopeful that AI will give us greater insight towards this goal.

That we can level-up ourselves by helping others less fortunate, and not just ourselves in that nanosecond of time we are inhabiting.

That AI helps us find out winning means being kind, having valor and honor, not just the fastest trigger finger around.

That AI gives prizes for stopping bullying, and extra points for spending time trying to help bullies figure things out for the better, so they don't try to intimidate through fear again.

That tokens are granted for longer term decision making which takes into account better goals instead of just rewarding immediate gratification.

And that AI will help us blend and accumulate positive social behaviors towards one another.

Perhaps this seems like a lot. Right now with news of the $50M in a new AI populace, there are people who are salivating at the thought of Salesbots / Spambots in the Metaverse being able to advertise product, maybe in a new AI kind of WOMMA. The thought struck me that they might try to sell to one another and fail spectacularly. But I am convinced AI can have a higher calling, and that will not take away any of the fun. In fact, it will add to the whole equation because as we feel about ourselves and the world, so as it is.

If you have a question, please email info@pookymedia.com with Metaquette in the Subject and it will be answered.

17 Aug 2022

Metaquette #DigitalLife #Cartoonification #VirtualCartoon Q15

 Tips & Tricks for negotiating The Metaverse with.....Pooky Amsterdam

Real life has its limitations, we all know that. Cartoons however can do anything from Superhero to Super Mario and more recently Super AI programs mean that animation is increasingly becoming the key language we all respond to. It is a universal language as well.

Q: Can becoming a cartoon improve my real life?

Science & Technology are entwined with animation and visual magic. In 1936 Walt Disney patented the Art of Animation - using Multiplane Camera in a way that allowed animators to reuse backgrounds and other unchanged portions of an animated film. This improved the quality of the finished film and cut costs in terms of money & time.

In 1938 while watching a Mickey Mouse cartoon, belief became suspended, as that B & W image is nothing like the life one has when the lights went up and it was time to get back to the real world. We embraced Mickey Mouse and all his friends.

in 1970 Lillian Schwartz debuted Pixillation one of the first digitally created films to be shown as a work of art. She worked early in her career with Bell Labs, developing mixtures of sound, video and art.

In 1978 Mickey would get his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

In 1988 Spielberg would give Disney a shot in the arm with "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?"

Ask anyone you know who their favorite cartoon character is and they will have an answer for you, maybe even more than one. Cartoons and animation are a part of our lives, our visual entertainment, our early identities and frames of reference.

In 2001, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences introduced a new Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

The rise of animation has also entered our homes in full force with the video games we play. At no time more so than now, do people get behind an avatar, literally and figuratively to spend hours inhabiting a character. With the rise of the Metaverse, this will only increase. People who play video games embrace that Universal joy of playing, and in the 2022 Essential Facts about the Game Industry, 97% of all Americans now see the benefits of playing video games and 88% of players say video games can bring together different types of people. In a world of discord, getting together as compelling animated figures, might save the day! The ability to be in the cartoon and run the action has become a mode for many, all you need to earn that passport is an avatar, as we embody them, giving them greater powers than we have on the other side of the small screen, we are being "cartoonified" to join in that activity.

The rise of inexpensive to produce engines allows new technology to give rise to animation at the press of a button. AI has become a formidable way for this form to produce immediate breathtaking results. Recently (Hat-tip to Remco Sikkema) I have seen some incredibly far out stuff being produced, from an AI gameplay demo  to the totally trippy DUMAGUETE  to a DiscoDiffusion post from Karen X. Cheng which seem to be AI panels  which can alter your appearance by looking through them on the street! It might be AR, but this kind of thing will give us the ability to change our appearance, perhaps to ward off attackers. If I am walking down the street and a potential assailant sees a 9 foot dinosaur instead of a slim woman, they might think twice about perpetuating a crime. 

Cartoons are more than flat screen nowadays, we enter the animated or pixelated Metaverse and can imbue these visual characteristics in many many ways, helping us feel entertained, empowered and larger than life. Game engine platforms of video games and Metaverses allow a 360 degree view of various and more diverse environments. They are ones we are becoming more adept in, and active in through our time there. As these scenes and environments move into the forefront of commercial activity, virtual assets whether human or AI generated are growing, and it allows personal and business enterprises to take chances and offer something very special for smaller costs.  Game engine graphics have more than come of age, and we are becoming the cartoon characters of our dreams. Now to be the Superheroes we always wanted to be.

If you have a question, please email info@pookymedia.com with the subject of Metaquette and you will have an answer in an upcoming blog!

11 Aug 2022

Metaquette #Immersion #VirtualHealth #VirtualReality #VR Q14


Weekly Tips And Tricks on negotiating The Metaverse with.....Pooky Amsterdam

Immersion is the state of being deeply engaged, it is what we achieve as humans when we are fully involved with that which is before us. Sometimes in a movie theater, in the collective dark we suspend our belief and fully buy into what is presented before our eyes. We believe what we see, and hear. New technology allows us, through the use of VR headsets to enter digital experiences in new ways, which grab our attention and commit us to the moment more than ever before.

Q: Can we become healthier using virtual reality and The Metaverse?

How often have you been amazed at the amount of time which has flown by while you were on Facebook or Instagram or Youtube? Social media platforms are terrifically engaging and watching what others have created has become somewhat addictive, a form of visual recreation. We watch a lot, but Virtual Reality allows us to participate in a fuller way. Virtual Reality and the Metaverse allows us to be in the game, where sit back and relax becomes lean forward and engage. And as VR has moved into our homes and out of the "arcade" its usefulness to our mental, physical and emotional well-being has grown as developers see the great opportunities in engaging us where we live.

Loneliness, inactivity, loss, pain and emotional scars are increasingly being alleviated with the use of profound Virtual Reality applications. With The Metaverse comes other people and lots of activities so that with a VR headset and with The Metaverse no one has to feel alone anymore. Increasingly VR is becoming recognized as a way for people to improve the quality of their lives. Imagine a Metaverse for health where people can go from the privacy of their own bathrobes, to seek a better way of being and feeling. For how we feel is how we are. For the elderly, being able to experience reminiscence therapy, often means less medication and a re-entry into more meaningful lives.

One incredibly real way of lessening pain, even chronic pain, is with the use of VR. EaseVRx was approved as a treatment by the FDA last November. For more on this and other health related uses, in a breathtakingly in depth article recently,  Maddie Bender cites the figures that the "market for VR healthcare will jump 350% to $9.7 billion by 2027."Utilizing the ability of the mind to distract itself by moving towards what is pleasurable, beautiful and healing, VR because of its absolute wrap around the senses effect, is the future of how we can heal ourselves. 

Different from video games, but the concept of this healing has been around for a long while. I remember being incredibly impressed with the game developed by HopeLab and released in 2006 called Re-Mission,  a cancer fighting game for young people which has had tremendous results. We can actively fight disease using our thoughts, and training ourselves to do so is vastly empowering as well.

What VR gives us is the power to harness our greatest resource, our beautiful minds, in the fight against just about anything. Even being able to help us overcome what barriers we feel, personality conflicts and negative thought processes which often hamper our development, creation and feeling of community. Just last week, MIT published an article on how VR is equivalent to a dose of LSD in helping with "ego-death" - talk about losing yourself to find yourself! Called Isness-D it allows us to transcend the barriers of our own skins and merge with others. 

More and more VR is being used as a tool to help our mental and physical health. I am looking forward to the use of a VR Headset in the dentist's office so that the pain and fear associated with dentistry falls away in a waterfall of healing mist. We are only scratching the surface of how deeply we can go with using our greatest asset, our brains to expand our abilities to heal ourselves.

I fully embrace using Virtual Reality, Virtual Worlds and The Metaverse to help us become healthier human beings, feeling less threatened, sick and alone. This can also be a basis for people to form greater bonds in their communities. These virtual journeys affect our real world mindsets, our mental health affects our bodies. Sometimes I think we have been stimulating our amygdala region of fear to such an extent that we need this relief now, as fear is not a friend of mental health. Thank goodness for VR, casting light into negative emotions which destroy ourselves, our bodies and our communities.

If you have a question please email info@pookymedia.com with Metaquette in the subject line.

3 Aug 2022

Metaquette #VirtualMusic #DigitalBand Q13

Nominees for first Metaverse Performance Category at the MTV Movie Awards

Weekly Tips & Tricks on negotiating The Metaverse with.....Pooky Amsterdam

"Music gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything"  ~Plato 428 - 348 BC

While the above quote came from someone who was not born with any knowledge of The Metaverse, or even the electric guitar, his quote resonates as music gives soul, flight and life to us still. Music is defining one of the great applications for The Metaverse as well, and in a more profound way because it is a shared immersive experience. People are transported through VR or other headsets to the sound the collective light occupies, where all aspects of the music seem amplified.

Q: I want to see how far The Metaverse can take music.  Any suggestions?

Picture a place where people from all over the world can hang out, listen to music and dance while not leaving the comfort of their home, or chair for that matter. Where the sound of music is so real, you and the music are one. Where every sensation around runs through your body. It doesn't get farther than that, but how to get it that far is the question, how to get people to the place where your music is playing? And can it be a more casual gig at a virtual club every week? Or does it have to be a concert recorded for something big, or bigger?

The increasingly large events in The Metaverse are exploding with important cultural milestones.  In June, Samsung Superstar Galaxy had Robloxians living their Charli XCX pop star dream by performing, dancing and creating there. The top users got to actually be part of the stage in the virtual concert finale with her. And Her performance became one of The 1st Best Metaverse Performance nominations at The Video Music Awards! That is an absolute new bar which has been reached, a new era. And you can vote for your favorite here.

Warner Music and The Sandbox will play live in that Metaverse, most likely gaining plenty of new accounts through all kinds of advertising. Hearing a favorite artist with thousands of fans from everywhere on the globe, dancing, jumping, being part of the Live Moment and you are in your pajamas, but looking A-Mazing? Count me in! How about being able to send a text message to the Beib? Even if he never reads it you can text something in his proximity. Proximity is what the platform of the Metaverse allows in a way real life does not. 

One that also involves a different and broader kind of fan base. People don't have to travel, get dressed to go out nor get a babysitter for the kids. Fans of course will come out for a performance anywhere, yet there is nothing more local than your preferred internet connection, and logging in to become completely engrossed will increasingly strike the right chord.  People are taking part in events remembered like any in the physical world, with their musical heroes,  larger than life and sometimes virtually on fire. These major recording artists while not actually onstage too are probably in their inner sanctum, focused, as in a live performance yet within the comfort of home studios.

Focus is another thing The Metaverse delivers, and intensifies in the delivery of music. Virtually we have entered this place with eyes and ears wide open and are not distracted by the usual suspects. We are there to take part in the experience. Our senses are employed in VR with both presence and what is presented right in front of us. It feels surrounded and moving, wrapped around our heads and wrapped around our eyes. We are "there" and the music fills us up going deep to our receptors. 

Nightclubs are ubiquitous in virtual world environments. VRChat has Night City , there's Sugar Club in Dentraland and The Nightclub in AltspaceVR. Second Life has 376 listings for music venues, or build a private one around a video game like Club Qu with the right people of course. If the Metaverse you are in doesn't have one or one you like, perhaps you'll start one yourself. All it takes is a place to go, and of course music.

Then there's doing a set yourself for an audience of virtual friends / strangers, which can be really fulfilling and fun. If you do not have a million-dollar record contract, or just want a lower key musical evening, The Metaverse can provide that too. What do you want to do? With the right equipment put on a show of your favorite music? Want a Led Zep tribute concert? Get your Robert Plant look on and sing along in another form of Karaoke where you can become the singer while you present your own Stairway to Heaven.  

If you have original songs or a set list, maybe you can get a playing gig by text messaging the venue owner of a location you have visited, and then sending them a link to demo. The Metaverse provides a way to reach people who might not otherwise have heard you playing at your kitchen table. It's a way of reaching a wide audience when not able to travel very far in real life. 

You do have to have real chops, beyond a vanity appearance, becoming a real virtual artist with a following takes real talent. There is insane word of mouth inworld, if you are good, you can build a real following that can have legs.

There is incredibly beautiful music being made all the time, and more to come, finding those who are there to listen. That is a bonding feeling which strengthens our ties to one another, because you are moving people in such a direct manner. We are incredibly receptive to sound in a virtual environment.

The opportunity for accompanying visuals to augment your music with video is profound. The Metaverse is so rich a platform visually that it is an excellent place for making your own Music Video, which might not go to the VMAs but will be incredibly fun to do. You can post it on tiktok, snap, Instagram, youtube and / or Facebook. Using the platform of your chosen Metaverse allows you to be creative in so many ways, using resources that are available, some free like a dancing animation that comes with your avatar, and some for purchase from the in-Metaverse catalog. And it's a cool way to meet folks if you need some additional avatar actors too.

I even got to record my theme song in between two shows I was running weekly back in the day, and it still sounds and looks great. I'm Too Busy To Date Your Avatar was a whirlwind to make, populated with sets, friends and textures around me, plus I was fortunate to work with Bernard Draxtor on this classic. The Metaverse is a place where Kismet happens, and this is a testimony to that. It is possible and it is waiting for you. I can't wait to watch the VMA's this year, and haven't been this excited to see them ever!

If you have a question, please email info@pookymedia.com with Metaquette in the subject line.