Meet the Codec Avatars, avatars that will be able to move and speak just like you. What could go wrong?
For all the progress VR has made over the past decade, a thing like Codec Avatars represents a transition to an entirely new phase of experience—and those in the company who have seen it know that. Each year at the Oculus Connect developer conference, Michael Abrash gets onstage and gives a state of the union about the pace of research and innovation in the company’s research labs. Over time, he’s settled into being bullish on some VR breakthroughs, bearish on others. This past October, though, one of his habitually ursine stances started growing horns. “I’m not betting on having convincingly human avatars within four years,” he said, “but I’m no longer betting against it either.”
There are, of course, lots of benign and helpful uses for things like this. But there are so many others as well.
It’s not just that it’s Facebook working on this, with its inbuilt tendency to come up with an idea and run to the most horrible possible application of it. Someone was going to do this even if they didn’t.
So in a world where someone can create an avatar of you, animate it to create a video of, say, you saying horrible racist things, you confessing to a crime, you saying nice things about Donald Trump, or some other terrible scene… and how do we identify truth?
This will be interesting.