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The Future of Faces

These days, everyone from Microsoft to ILM to Electronic Arts is trying to make computer-generated human faces look more realistic. But Clive Thompson, writing in Slate, argues that video-game developers should aim to make characters less realistic, not more. As…

These days, everyone from Microsoft to ILM to Electronic Arts is trying to make computer-generated human faces look more realistic. But Clive Thompson, writing in Slate, argues that video-game developers should aim to make characters less realistic, not more. As digital faces get closer to photorealism, he says, they look creepier and creepier–and less engaging.

I agree with the creepy part. Most CG faces lack the soft wrinkles and subtle expressions of the real thing, so they don’t look alive. But that’s with today’s technology. In five years, game graphics will be where movies are today. You’ll be able to interact in real time with characters as compelling as Gollum and 100 Agent Smiths. (These movie characters look good because they are based on real footage of real actors, processed by immense computers.)

Depending on whom you ask, researchers have already done 80 to 99 percent of the work necessary to make CG humans indistinguishable from real ones. Only that last bit remains. So what are we afraid of? That they’ll never get there–or that they will?

Deep Dive

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Five poems about the mind

DREAM VENDING MACHINE I feed it coins and watch the spring coil back,the clunk of a vacuum-packed, foil-wrappeddream dropping into the tray. It dispenses all kinds of dreams—bad dreams, good dreams,short nightmares to stave off worse ones, recurring dreams with a teacake marshmallow center.Hardboiled caramel dreams to tuck in your cheek,a bag of orange dreams…

Work reinvented: Tech will drive the office evolution

As organizations navigate a new world of hybrid work, tech innovation will be crucial for employee connection and collaboration.

lucid dreaming concept
lucid dreaming concept

I taught myself to lucid dream. You can too.

We still don’t know much about the experience of being aware that you’re dreaming—but a few researchers think it could help us find out more about how the brain works.

panpsychism concept
panpsychism concept

Is everything in the world a little bit conscious?

The idea that consciousness is widespread is attractive to many for intellectual and, perhaps, also emotional
reasons. But can it be tested? Surprisingly, perhaps it can.

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Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

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