At Metaphysic, we are working towards a multi-layered metaverse filled with hyperreal content that people love.
We chose the name Metaphysic because it speaks to the fundamental interplay of illusion and reality. Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with the ultimate nature of the world around us and what it means for something to exist. It’s a concept that has captured the human imagination for millennia. Today, synthetic media challenges us to consider a more flexible concept of reality, or the possibility of alternate realities that perfectly map onto each other and fade away in an instant.
We are creators at heart and we love to make amazing content that excites the possibility of something beyond the viewer’s assumptions about the real world. We believe that as technology advances, our experience of reality will be increasingly punctuated by moments where real life and fictional realities seamlessly blend together, sometimes to an extent where the difference is no longer important. These are moments of hyperreality where actual and synthetic realities implode into each other and leave the viewer with a novel hyperreal vision of the world around them.
Hyperreality is precisely what makes the @deeptomcruise videos so compelling. We can imagine Tom Cruise posting a video of himself enjoying a Tootsie Pop or playing golf on TikTok, even though he never did those things in real life. And when the artifice of the videos is revealed, it doesn’t diminish our sense of pleasure. It heightens it because it reveals a hyperreal world of infinite potential.
The radical promise of hyperreal synthetic media is that it can sharpen our ability to suspend disbelief and more deeply immerse ourselves in imaginary worlds. Whenever we engage with a work of fiction, whether it’s a book, TV show, or film, we allow ourselves to depart from the way the world is to the way the world could be. This impulse to open the escape hatch from reality is deeply human. We are story-telling creatures and our ability to imagine and share alternative realities is a source of endless fascination and amusement.
In the past, our ability to share the limitless possibilities of alternative realities was constrained by technology. The invention of the printing press marked our transition from a primarily oral culture to a written one, and the step change in technology made it possible to distribute alternative realities to ever greater audiences. The advent of film and television shifted us from a written to an audiovisual culture and enabled our immersion in much richer fictional worlds. Synthetic media is the next chapter in this story and it promises full immersion in our fictional worlds with the assistance of artificial intelligence.
What is the future of synthetic media? At Metaphysic, we believe the answer is a user-generated metaverse filled with hyperreal content. Today, there are many projects that allow users to explore, customise and even own a part of persistent virtual spaces. From Fortnite to The Sandbox, we can already see the wireframe of an emergent metaverse built upon many dislocated layers. One day, these virtual worlds will be filled with hyperreal content created by users quickly and cheaply with the help of AI. We believe that @deeeptomcruise is another chapter in today’s fledgling metaverse. While @deeptomcruise is ‘conventional media’ that plays out on two-dimensional mobile phone screens around the world, it subtly transports the viewer into a hyperreal world where anything is possible — and where Tom Cruise does his own industrial clean up!
We imagine a multi-layered metaverse overflowing with hyperreal objects and content — not just faces and bodies, but also plants, animals, and inanimate objects — that can be endlessly remixed by users to create custom experiences. There will be markets for trading AI models to generate new content, much like users can purchase custom in-game items today. The combination of AI-generated content and virtual reality will allow for total immersion in alternative realities. Filling up an ever-expanding metaverse with hyperreal content will be challenging due to the sheer scale of production required. The key will be the combination of AI tools that can scale content at marginal cost and the ability of everyday users to deploy these tools to create their wildest fantasies. It follows that we must also focus on ethical guard rails in user-generated metaverses to mitigate the potential harm to society and individuals that may ensue when anyone can create their own hyperreal synthetic media.
Synthetic media will forever change the way we produce and consume content. We get a glimpse of the potential of the metaverse every time we immerse ourselves in the rich fantasy worlds created by our favorite films, television shows, and video games. An alternate reality where Tom Cruise plays golf on TikTok is just the beginning, Metaphysic is creating content and products that will transform the limited possibilities of reality into the limitless potential of the hyperreal.
We’ll see you in the metaverse.
Metaphysic builds software to help creators make incredible content with the help of artificial intelligence. Find out more: www.metaphysic.ai
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About the author: in a galaxy far away, I was a lawyer turned internet & society researcher. In the 7 years before co-founding Metaphysic, I built tech companies in SF and London. I have always been obsessed with computational photography and computer vision, so it a thrill to work alongside amazing people on the next evolution in how we build and perceive reality — one pixel at a time.
© Thomas Graham & Metaphysic Limited 2021.