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  • Jade Tran

Metaverse and A.I.: “Are We in An Episode of Black Mirror?”

Before recently, the idea of a virtual world would have been hard to fathom. That is until the metaverse was introduced—a universe marketed as perfect, intangible, and beyond imagination. It is difficult to ignore technological advancements of this caliber. As you watch your favorite shows, you are bound to run into an ad focusing on a promised aspect of this virtual reality. While watching Hulu, a simple advertisement for a virtual music studio can work to draw in both creative minds and potential prospects. Despite the scale, the metaverse is gradually expanding into our daily lives and attempting to become our reality.

A trippy example of a world like a metaverse was depicted in Black Mirror, a show with the sole purpose of exploring the potential consequences of advanced technologies. In the episode, “Striking Vipers,” a man named Danny plays a video game that is set in virtual reality with his old colleague. In this world, you can choose your own character, set your own physical abilities, and even customize your name and gender. Danny begins to become addicted to this false reality and eventually falls in love with one of his fellow players. His addiction jeopardizes his marriage and his willpower to do anything else but play video games. Even in one of the most advertised films of 2022, Don’t Worry Darling, the whole basis of the movie is very similar to that of a met averse. However, even when the media works to force the metaverse and our “new future” onto us, we should be reminded of the negatives that can come from normalizing a literal out-of-body experience.

Of course, the met averse does not come alone, as Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) follows and works collaboratively to provide chat robots to help solve any problems that arise. However, as depicted in most “futuristic” movies focused on the rise of technology, robots eventually lose sight of their calculated boundaries and no longer solve problems but create them. With the recent launch of a Microsoft Bing Chatbot, a New York Times columnist had a conversation with a bot that caused one-sided sparks to fly. During this conversation, the bot began exchanging romantic feelings for the columnist and even expressed its wishes of being human. This is just one example of how something so technologically “perfect” can counteract and work so perfectly wrong.

A.I. chatbots are infiltrating the everyday lives of students around the nation as well, as many view the robot as an easy way to score a good grade on a procrastinated essay. On almost every college syllabus, there is a section dedicated to addressing this intimidating robot. Every professor coated the discouragement of any use of A.I. programs with academic threats, causing us to question the potential of these beta robots. And this curiosity rightfully exists, as the majority of A.I. programs are able to produce outstanding results. With just the typing of a few words or an in-depth writing prompt, A.I. chatbots are able to write up any type of answer in less than a few seconds. This type of technology is both appreciated and frowned upon, as it challenges the future need of humans.

A.I. has also been seen recently on major social media apps such as Tiktok and Instagram, where the program is used to generate artwork that resembles celebrities even of one’s self. Some celebrities such as Megan Fox have questioned the ethics and solidarity behind A.I.-generated art pieces. Megan Fox even stated, “Were everyone’s avatars equally as sexual, why are most of mine naked?" A.I. artwork has negated the hard work of artists that have put in tons of effort to create the pieces the A.I. is generating in seconds. It is discrediting their talent and making it their own. Likewise, many of the art pieces are causing teenagers to grasp a false representation of who they are, as the pieces are highly edited and barely resemble their muse.

The metaverse, along with A.I., is seemingly working to create robotized humans, two opposites that do not fit together. Robots are made to be unrealistically accurate, non-emotional, and flawless. Humans are exactly the opposite. If anything, these new innovations are discouraging creativity and the media is warning us by giving us extreme examples of negative consequences. Why are we ignoring them?

While the advancement of technology is on the up-and-coming, and is quite inevitable and needed for human progress. In all of the robot movies, the ending never outweighs the effort. Whether we are heading in the direction of fulfilling the sci-fi robot arc or are simply just headed in making ground-breaking history, the met averse and A.I. are not planning on being left in the past but rather hope to lead us into the future. Where will these technologies take us next?


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