virtual-being-summit

edward-saatchi
The third annual Virtual Beings & Virtual Societies Summit happened on October 29-30, and I had a chance to attend and unpack it with the co-founder of Fable Studio and instigator of a new Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) called the The Culture DAO, which officially launched as a part of the Summit. They also launched the social token of $CULTUR, which is a token-powered Guild for virtual beings, avatars and metaverse identity, and you can find more info in the “$CULTUR – The Beginning” manifesto published on October 6th.

Saatchi was one of the co-founders of Oculus Story Studio bringing together storytellers and game designers to be on the frontiers of experimenting with immersive storytelling. After Oculus Story Studio was shuttered in May 2017, Fable Studio was able to continue development on the Neil Gaiman-optioned piece of Wolves in Walls, which premiered at Sundance 2018. Wolves in Walls featured an embodied virtual being character named Lucy, that distilled many embodied lessons of communication and body language from the Immersive Theatre company Third Rail Projects.

Wolves in Walls was released on the Rift in 2019 and the Quest in 2020, and Saatchi said that people felt such an embodied connection to the character that they would want to try to communicate with her. This triggered a long journey aspiring towards virtual beings that have a personality, character, incentives, and motivations that make them interesting to talk with in the context of a story world. In other words, the ultimate destination is Artificial General Intelligence. In my previous discussion with Andrew Stern, one of the co-creators of Façade, he said that the constructs of a story world allow you to create a bounded context that allows you have conversations with an AI character that would feel more real and capable than what AI is capable of today giving the limitations of contextual awareness and common sense reasoning.

After many years of experimenting with GPT-3 and one-on-one chatbot types of experiences with Lucy, he’s come to the conclusion that none of the current approaches are getting us any closer to the dream of AGI. This is a big reason why he’s looking for radical approaches of incentive design from the web3 & DeFi worlds of cryptocurrencies, social tokens, DAOs, and NFTs. Rather than data mining the Internet to train massive language models like GPT-3, Saatchi is hoping to create simulation worlds that are dedicated to creating mentorship relationships between humans and AI in a way that could have train-to-earn model of a cryptocurrency token or other gamified incentive structures to move beyond the current limitations of big data scraping and training models that have reached a dead end for now.

I had a chance to talk with Saatchi this past Tuesday after his Virtual Being + Virtual Societies Summit to unpack his quest towards AGI virtual beings, and some of the recent inspirations from the web3 world, multi-modal learning, incentive design, and The Culture DAO Guild to cultivate a cooperative training community to escape the extremes of AI Winters and AI Summers, blitz-scaled companies that lead to bankruptcy, and siloed information within innovation spaces. It’s part of a larger movement towards decentralization, digital ownership, and DAOs that are gaining more leverage through community organizing and mutually financially-incentivized, cooperative action.

I still have lots of cautious skepticism towards these technologies that are always in right relationship to the world around us, but there’s also a lot of exciting potentials to create new social dynamics that just may allow us to start to escape from the more negative aspects of the consolidated power of Big Tech companies their more settler/colonial mindsets of seizing our private data to fund the underlying immersive technologies of whatever may evolve into our ideas of the Metaverse.

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After attending the Virtual Beings Summit, I was inspired to buy my first EcoNFT from XR artist Sutu. I’m excited to see where he takes the VR and AR integrations for Neonz, but also have a bit better sense of what Saatchi was talking about in terms of being a part of a community that is mutually financially incentivized to contribute to the project.

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Music: Fatality

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