I have always been fascinated with the Mouse Heaven or Mouse Hell Experiment conducted by Biologist John Calhoun in the 1960s. It was supposed to be a mouse heaven with everything a mouse could so desire. I won’t go into the details but ultimately the experiment started with 8 mice, the population grew to a leak of 2200 and then eventually the whole population died out. The similarities with the current human situation is frightening…
Let’s start in the Metaverse
I saw this video the other day where Lex Friedman and Mark Zuckerberg were talking in the Metaverse via their meta VR goggles. Prior to the interview they had both had very (I mean VERY) realistic avatars created of themselves. If you watch the video, you can really see how realistic the conversation looks.
When I saw this, I was totally blown away. This struck me as one of those moments which marks a fundamental change in a technology. It was difficult for my brain to process that the interview I was seeing on the screen was not an interview between two human beings in real life.
The next thing I want to bring to the table is OpenAI and their fairly recent introduction of audio into their phone application. This brings with it the ability to be able to speak with OpenAI and have real life conversations. I discovered this through listening to a podcast which was solely a conversation between the podcast presenter and OpenAI. This was also another case of me being blown away. The podcaster was having a normal conversation with AI and if you weren’t told that this was AI, you could easily be mistaken that this was a conversation between two human-beings.
Less Human Relationships
The last part I want to mention is a podcast with Steven Bartlett and Chris Williamson that I was listening to recently. They were talking about certain trends happening in society at the moment. Fewer and fewer people are getting into relationships, more people are single, women are having babies later, and many people are choosing to opt out of relationships altogether and instead focus on themselves and their careers. On top of that people are having less sex than ever before. I really recommend a listen to this podcast to find out the reasons and current theories around this phenomenon.
What the future holds
Taking all these things into consideration when looking into the future things start to look pretty grim. Humans are spending less time in groups with other humans, they are spending more time alone and the technology society is plowing money into is only exacerbating the situation.
So, as I look into this bleak murky future, what do I actually see happening?
I see something potentially quite scary happening. If one is able to create photorealistic avatars in the Metaverse, I would propose there’s going to be a very high chance that people, men and women alike, will want to create their ideal partners in the Metaverse and forget any possibility of finding someone in the real world.
Let’s take a young gentleman of around 25 years of age. He’s average height and average attractiveness. He’s always found it difficult and awkward to talk to people of the opposite sex. He works a hard job and at the end of the day he likes to go home and unwind. He could sign into the Metaverse and either create or buy a very realistic, very pretty looking lady avatar. He could create her with the exact attributes that he so desires. Then whenever he puts his VR goggles on, he would be able to see this lady right in front of him. She will be so realistic he will believe he is actually in the same room with her.
Not only does he want to behold a beautiful young lady in his vision but he would like to interact with her. Even now this is completely possible with OpenAI’s Chat GPT.
Next up comes the audio. The lady doth speak! Not only does he want to behold a beautiful young lady in his vision but he would like to interact with her too. Even now this is completely possible with OpenAI’s ChatGPT. He can have genuine conversations where OpenAI will respond to exactly what he’s saying. She will listen to every word (I mean every single word!!) and provide the exact response he thinks he deserves. If he doesn’t like how she is responding, no worries. He can then just tinker around and tune and tweak OpenAI’s ChatGPT to give responses as he desires. If he wants them to have a cheeky sense of humour, then they can be tuned to give funny responses. If he wants them to be very serious, they can give very serious responses. One can really tune these models to respond as one wants.
As these models evolve, they are only going to get better and better at conversations. It’s not going to be too long before you really won’t be able to tell the difference between a human and AI.
This young gentlemen will then spend the course of the evening interacting with this beautiful avatar, his emotions will come out to play and then feelings of love with begin entering his mind. You may think I am exaggerating but then I would question ‘Why not?’.
I can see this loneliness epidemic that we seem to be going through, only ever, ever expanding until we are all alone in our rooms completely in love with words and images. Our technology that is supposed to bring us together is only separating us further and further apart.
If it looks real and talks real then whats not real about it? Just because it doesn’t have a physical existence, does this make it any less real? How much of relationships are played out in the mind anyway? I’m not downplaying the need for physical intimacy, this is obviously a vital ingredient in any intimate relationship. But plenty of relationships flourish without any physical intimacy. From the Tech CEOs out there this is just one more hurdle to overcome, they will already be thinking of solutions.
This is already pretty much happening
Like with anything in AI, things move fast. By the time you read this article this could well be a reality. People are already generating fake influencers and generating plenty of profit out of it. Playing on the desires of lonely men set at home with their devices. If you don’t believe me watch the below ideo.
If we take this trend where less and less people are committing to relationships and where it’s harder and harder to find the perfect partner, I can really see more and more people retreating (and I specifically use the word retreating) online. They can put on their VR goggles, and before them, they can see their perfect partner. They can interact with them as they would believe they would interact with their perfect partner. It can satisfy so many of the human needs that a relationship brings. It won’t satisfy all of them, but it will satisfy many of them.
I can see when people are given the choice between going out into the real world — into the messy, difficult, sometimes tough real world — and trying to find a partner, versus going home, putting on some VR goggles, and meeting someone who in many respects is far more perfect than anyone who exists in the real world, then I can see the choice that many people will make. This really scares me, because I can see this loneliness epidemic that we seem to be going through, only ever, ever expanding until we are all alone in our rooms completely in love with words and images. Our technology that is supposed to bring us together is only separating us further and further apart.
I like to write blog posts that share exciting new tools I’ve discovered, how-to articles and also the occasional opinion post.
I live in Prague in the Czech Republic with my family.
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