Virtual Beings Summit – Outlines

What will Avatars look like in the Metaverse? Interoperability? What worlds will be possible? Decentralised vs Centralised games and worlds? Digital fashion in the future? AI-Artists practices?
These were only a few Questions and the different opinions and visions were debated at the Virtual Being Summit.

The Virtual Beings are coming… Slowly entering our lives, in the forms of avatars, digital humans, AI-characters in the games, and the future will be more and more interesting.
The Virtual Being Summit 2021 debated the coming transformations, in two days discussion-marathon, with an impressive line-up of speakers, put-up together by The Culture Dao.


We recommend our interview with Edward Saatchi, to understand what The Culture DAO stands for, web 3 and tokens, how and why the group would like to achieve General Artificial Intelligence.

Organised in different meta-worlds, like a teleportation between different types of spatiality, speakers debated the Future while flying, painting, visiting an art exhibition, hunting or chasing obstacles. The host and chief-interviewer, Edward Saatchi (Culture DAO, CEO of Fable Studio, former Oculus) welcomed the online-public, in an idyllic landscape with hills and flowers.

The Summit had a little bit of everything for everyone (if you resisted), but here are TechvangArt take-aways ideas for Artists and Creators, plus funny moments and… the ‘missed’ opportunities 😛

Avatars and Interoperability - do we need that?

Digital identities will become more and more important, but how important and possible is it to move avatars across platforms?
Currently it is not possible due to some of the reasons: technology is not there yet, but also some companies would like to keep assets locked in a certain game or world.
But for the future, do we want it? It turns out much disputed interoperability of characters and in general digital assets across platforms have many visions.
Izzy Pollack Head of Avatar SDK & API, Founding Team at Genies Partner sees the avatar as a ‘passport to the Metaverse’. He considers that consistency of avatars across platforms is important. “If you can have that central character, that everyone can get to know and love, and use the same identity during the metaverse, so, you would know that. We try to build that universal you, so you can maintain that consistency over the metaverse”
Jacob Navok CEO at Genvid Technologies has a totally different opinion: “I fundamentally don’t think that there is gonna be a lot of interoperability of assets across virtual worlds”. He argues that world-builders craft with a lot of attention to details that fits those specific worlds, each world has a certain aesthetic and artistic vision. And it is true that some assets from Fortnite would make no sense in Minecraft. Plus, “I am not sure, I want to be the same character in Star Citizen and in Fortnite”, added Jacob Navok.
At the same time, Blu would like to explore different worlds as Blu.

Multiple Avatars?

The system of avatars is in its early days, so people are switching them, while others would like to have multiple avatars.
Be whoever you want to be, might be the motto of the Metaverse f̷o̷r̷ ̷t̷h̷e̷ ̷m̷o̷m̷e̷n̷t̷s̷
Izzy from Genies is thriving to make easily accessible tools for users so they can shift avatars: “So on Monday, you can be a CEO, but, if you want to be a f**** rock, be a rock! If you wanna be a whale, if you wanna be a panda, because you feel like cuddling, or if you wanna be a lion because you go into a negotiation or to an interview…., we wanna give you those tools to be what you want”.
Tom Sanocki Engineering Director, Avatars at Roblox considers that multiple avatars will definitely happen, as we already have different styles and outfits for different situations, users might want different avatars for that.
In addition, the ability to make different combinations in the Metaverse is essential, for example if you want to wear a tuxedo or have wings, this should not be a problem. He highlighted the different taste of users matter- some love cartoonish, realistic, or some want fantastical avatars. From this point of view, creating tools that make it easy for someone to customize the avatars is critical, so even non-technical persons can build something great, consider Sanocki.

The Future COMMUNITIES? 

Topics such as multiple avatars and interoperability are closely linked to communities and discussion about Centralized vs Decentralized approaches to Metaverses, each part having its advantages.

Amy Wu from Speedlight considers that there is a place for both players and in the end, the ‘winners’ will be those “who provide the best and more fun experience for players, and who is able to create a world that actually has meaning, where participants can build identity and reputation”.
Alex Paley from Faraway Games said that the success of a game resides also in the ability to retain players, and in Metaverse to retain people that are inhabiting the world: “Every CEO knows how important communities are, because if they are not being treated well, they would live”.
Jacob Navok highlighted as important the commonly shared experience and stories that can be told AND the ability to shape the experiences. “What I want to happen is unique stories. How do we create experiences where we have a meaningful story? We allow for the community to have agency in the story in the way in which it is told! We allow for the character to be authentic for what communities want and individuals to have moments to say: we made a difference here, we affected the lives of these characters”.
Amy Wu from Lightspeed pointed out that the future of metaverse will depend on the quality of the games, and “whether they are able to attract a mainstream or large audience, is gonna depend on the ability of community building”.

Virtual Fashion

If avatars adoption grow, fashion will follow, and the reasons are obvious, because isn’t fashion a way to express ourselves?
Amber Slooten, Creative Director of The Fabricant, one the leading digital fashion house, considers that in games or virtual worlds there is a need to feel like yourself, not necessarily to look like in reality per se, but an expression of you.
Moreover, fashion design in the virtual world don’t necessarily have to be a copy of the physical fashion: “If you are designing fashion for digital why not create something that is really possible only in the digital world?”

So, with this criteria in mind, definitely the most fashionable appearance at the Summit was Blu.
Related to the future he promised: “There is a lot of fashion in Blu’s Future, to create something in the Metaverse”. We solemnly promise here and now, we will hold Blu to this promise!
Cory Strassburger/Blu would like to explore NFTs as well, seeing them as a creative functionality between the audience and show, and Xanadu NFTs could be conceived as to give access to the ship, or become part of the show’.
Moreover, it is open to ads as well, because “building empires is expensive”.

Tom Sanocki Engineering Director, Avatars at Roblox thinks that in the future there will be different styles and esthetics, as people have different needs.
Uniforms or symbols for showing that you’re belonging to a certain group might appear. And also in Metaverse, the constraints of the physical such as gravity, nature of the material are not present.
The Constraints would relate “what message you would like to send, and what feeling you wanna give to people? I can imagine fashion going in a really different direction” consider Sanocki.
Fashion Stores in the Metaverse? Definitely there will be part of it, thinks Tom Sanocki.

AI & Fashion

AI creating Fashion? Definitely can mix well. The Fabricant already released such a collaborative collection, where AI generated images, and part of them were translated in a 3D environment. It seems the collaboration went on perfectly: ‘AI can be a real help, in thinking about unconventional shapes, that normally you would not choose’, reflects Amber Slooten about the experience.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_Se03-vLxw

THE Future of Fashion

As for the Future of Fashion, Amber Slooten (The Fabricant) talked about several directions:
-Fashion in the virtual worlds, where you can fully express yourself
-Smart fashion in the physical world: where clothes will be comfortable and smart and can tell you for example what type of nutrient you would need
-AR fashion filters in the physical worlds, so you can change your image in the physical world as you like. (Future looks amazing, but…why those comfy-AR glasses are not coming faster? 😀 )

New business models, jobs:  Play-to-earn, train-to-earn

Axie Infinity is a game that figured out a new way to earn money by playing, and for many people from the developing countries such as Philippines, Venezuela and Indonesia, it has been a way of income during the pandemic.
Interestingly, 3 out of 5 co-founders from Axie Infinity met while playing crypto-kitty, and Jiho was one of the top Crypto Kitty breeders.

But what is the game all about and how players actually earn?
The game contains creatures called “Axies”, digital pets, that are NFTs minted on Ethereum. Axies can be used by players to earn in-game resources such as tokens, cryptocurrencies.
To earn money on the platform is through play: to breed the Axies, mint them as NFTs, and sell them to other players.

Jiho explained that the studio do not sell the digital pets, Axies need to be bought from the marketplace. The only way to create Axies is to bread them, using an in-game resource called the smooth love potion. And only way this potion can be created is through game play, as a result of effort and time spend in-game. 

The new Play-to-Earn model was an inspiration for the train-to-earn, said Arif Khan from Altheai.AI.

Althea AI is building Intelligent Avatars and recently launched the Noah Ark with 10.000 iNFTs of famous historical personalities, as iNFTs (intelligent NFTs) But, as AIs have to be trained, challenged in order to level up their intelligence, train-to-earn might be a solution.

Axis Infinity even did a short film about the impact of the play-to-earn model on people who earn far more than minimum wages

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lg5C2EbYueo 

While some are amazed by the potential of play-to-earn, especially because AI will displace jobs, others are more critical claiming that incomes are typical for developing countries and such models are possible only in such parts of the world. 

And there is precedent to it, some researchers highlight the level of exploitation from companies that are developing AIs using low-paid workers from developing countries. Julian Posada (Faculty of Information of the University of Toronto) investigates the experiences of workers in Latin America who annotate data for artificial intelligence through digital labor platforms
You can find more info about A New AI Lexicon: Labor on the research page

THE Future of New BM of play-to-earn

Reflecting on the play-to-earn model, Amy Wu from Speedlight – investment firm specialized in crypto games – considers that there are two versions for play-to-earn.
The first where people play for wages, and the second where people play for fun, and in the game it is built in also the possibility to earn as something additional. For the future, she sees more Blockchain games will go in the second direction.

 Artistic Practices: AI+ Art+ DAO+…

AI and ART is a long movement, and recently with the development of VR, DAOs, and Virtual Beings, most probably in the future AI artists will add new layers to their work, exploring all these new opportunities. 

*If you are interested in this topic of AI and ART, you can review our articles about the pioneers in the field, but also contemporary evolutions of machine creativity and different forms of human-machine collaborations or applications of AI as curators or art critics.

https://techvangart.com/2021/08/04/visual-algorithm-al-vision-of-creativity/ 

The Summit also invited artists to talk about their projects and explored how decentralized approach works in groups of AI-Artists or how to create alongside AI. 

Mario Klingemann is ​​considered one of the pioneers in the field of neural networks, computer learning and artificial intelligence art. One of his interesting projects is BOTTO
Botto is a decentralised AI driven artist, who is controlled by all the shareholders that own shares.

Mario Klingemann is ​​considered one of the pioneers in the field of neural networks, computer learning and artificial intelligence art. One of his interesting projects is BOTTO
Botto is a decentralised AI-driven artist, who is controlled by all the shareholders that own shares.
Mario Klingemann sees Botto as a very inexperienced child that needs help from the community to learn and develop. The learning mechanism is a feedback loop, which was explained by the artist.

The process of learning: Botto is generating images and choosing images to present to the community. After that, on a weekly basis, the community votes for the image (that will be minted as an NFT and sold on SuperRare).
The learning mechanism appears in the voting process, because as such Botto starts learning what its owners-community wants. Votes will count in the generation process itself, where it learns which styles, themes, topics, the audience prefers.
Second in its own curation process, from the images it produces, it makes the first pick, which one to present to the audience. And that creates this feedback loop, and in the end will become better and keep on creating interesting work.
The Future of Botto? Klingemann considers that Botto is supposed to grow and take into account new developments in AI, and at a certain point to be able to upgrade itself .
And maybe at some point Botto might get its voice or its way to communicate. More about BOTTO Mario Klingemann Artworks

Claire Silver is an AI collaborative artist and NFT enthusiast exploring themes of vulnerability, trauma, disability, social hierarchy, innocence, transcendence, divinity and digital identity.
In her works, she is using Art-Breeders, because “I love the aspect of accessibility, democratisation, the freedom that it gives you without the need to know code to be creative, and then I change it, I paint it and so on.”
One of her interesting topics is Transhumanism. She considered that in the future it will have some physical augmentation, and AI will help humans with memory and knowledge compendium, but a new species might appear: “people with that kind of augmentation will be almost like a new species of human. With the good and bad that comes with that. So, it is really important to have that conversation early, when it is created’.


Digital identity is another topic explored by Claire Silver as it can give more freedom to people “The great struggle for people has always been to show who they are inside and be accepted fully. What you look like, where you were born, all of those class stratifiers are out of your hands. With digital identity, you are able to choose how you represent yourself to the world, how you are perceived, it puts the choice into the hands”.
Future projects? She just started to work with Unreal Engine where she will create a room environment for Cassandra, where visitors can have an experience, and maybe even a chatbot. And all this sounds quite exciting. More about Claire Silver Artworks

Also, at the event, The Culture DAO has launched its Social Token, $CULTUR. If you are interested to buy the token and be part of the group, please find all info at https://www.theculturedao.com/

NB: Interesting moments:

Manifestos
You would think that they are some strongly articulated speeches, emanating the power of transformation, carrying the seeds of REVOLUTION.  
Not in the Metaverse of The Culture Dao. Here manifestos have a new… style

The cute moment. ♡♡♡

Lucy, the virtual being from the award-winning VR movie ‘Wolves in the Walls‘ (director: Pete Billington, producer: Fable Studio), made a Tarot session. (… Even Jodorowsky would envy her, because of the Tarot, of course…)

The missed-moment 🙂

We have so little info about Blu… Definitely, the host of the Summit, Edward Saatchi, tried and tried to find out who is the real Blu, but… Blu was straightforward: “what you see is what you get, I am just a Blu Alien, trying to build a galactic empire”.
And, ok, that Blu is talking to Alexa (but, who isn’t?) and there was a character on the ship (so?). Well, we want to get more than we see 😛 , all about plans, strategies to make an empire + any spicy gossips…

So, this interview should either be repeated, or even better: The Culture Dao should really send some Virtual Being Spies to Xanadu to deliver us some proper info about Blu.
The Earth is waiting! 😀