Category: Presence in the News


  • The CEO of Zoom wants AI clones in meetings

    [In an interview with The Verge’s Decoder podcast, the CEO of Zoom describes a future in which users send AI-based digital versions of themselves, indistinguishable from the users except with authentication software, to Zoom meetings. I’ve included the relevant portions of the interview transcript below, but you can listen to the full 1 hour and 5 minute interview and/or read the full transcript at the original story. –Matthew] [Image: Credit: Photo illustration by The Verge / Photo: Zoom] The CEO of Zoom wants AI clones in meetings Zoom founder Eric Yuan has big ambitions in enterprise software, including letting your…

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  • Niall Williams helps people walk more naturally through virtual worlds

    [This interview with computer science doctoral student Niall Williams is from Science News Explores (where it includes an additional set of images). It describes his work developing algorithms that increase both safety and presence for users of virtual and mixed reality technologies as the users simultaneously move through virtual and physical environments. It also touches on the value of interdisciplinary scholarship. For more details see an August 2021 story from the University of Maryland Computer Science Department, and Hiall’s website. –Matthew] This computer scientist is making virtual reality safer Niall Williams helps people walk more naturally through virtual worlds By…

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  • Medium as social actor (MASA) presence: The dangerous illusion of AI consciousness

    [This essay from the IAI (The Institute of Art and Ideas) provides a vivid, cautionary description of some of the dangers involved in the commercialization and widespread use of artificial intelligence technologies that evoke compelling medium as social actor (MASA) presence illusions. –Matthew] The dangerous illusion of AI consciousness The false dawn of machine minds AI expert and DeepMind contributor Shannon Vallor explores OpenAI’s latest GPT-4o model, based on the ideas of her new book, ‘The AI Mirror’. Despite modest intellectual improvements, AGI’s human-like behaviour raises serious ethical concerns, but as Vallor argues, AI today only presents the illusion of…

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  • Google and HP partner to bring Project Starline’s “magic window” to businesses and homes

    [A flurry of press coverage followed Google’s recent announcement that the company is partnering with HP to commercialize its experimental presence-evoking technology Project Starline. The Tom’s Guide story below has some of the details. Follow links in the story and see Google’s webpage for the technology for more information (the latter includes this: “Feel more present with those you connect with: Starline users experience a ~15% increase in visual attentiveness. Enhanced 3D rendering and spatial audio create a sense of presence that helps you truly focus on what matters most.”). Another Tom’s Guide story and coverage from The National and…

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  • VR may enhance learning efficiency over real-world environments, says Drexel study

    [In the right circumstances the sense of spatial presence evoked by technology may lead to better outcomes than the equivalent experience in the nonmediated world. A new study from Drexel University compared brain activity, behavioral measures, and self-assessments when people solved visuospatial problems presented on a 2D computer screen, in virtual reality, and in the nonmediated world. As this story from Drexel reports, the researchers conclude that “VR’s capacity to create immersive spaces – complete with better mental imagery and visual cues for learning – may in some cases be a better option than a traditional real-world or computer screen-based…

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  • Ferrari will make electric supercars sound good without speakers

    [For safety reasons and to enhance the driver’s experience, manufacturers of electric-powered vehicles typically incorporate speakers that add sounds to the minimal noises the vehicles otherwise make (see a 2023 CTech story for details). In the story below, CarBuzz reports on new patents filed by Ferrari for the use of other presence-evoking technologies that create “a fully immersive experience… The end goal is an authentic auditory experience and one that provides genuine acoustic feedback.” See the original version of the story for ten more images. –Matthew] Ferrari Will Make Electric Supercars Sound Good Without Speakers Ferrari is ensuring that even…

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  • The teens making friends with AI chatbots

    [This story from The Verge provides a vivid, example-filled look at how teens are interacting with AI chatbots, with both positive and potentially negative consequences. Here’s just one presence-related quote: “Character.AI users have also struggled with telling their chatbots apart from reality: a popular conspiracy theory, largely spread through screenshots and stories of bots breaking character or insisting that they are real people when prompted, is that Character.AI’s bots are secretly powered by real people.” See the original version of the story for two more images. –Matthew] [Image: Illustration by Ard Su for The Verge] The teens making friends with…

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  • How AI and other advancements are changing the use of cuddly robots in dementia care

    [As reported in this story from MIT Technology Review, the incorporation of AI and other enhancements are expanding the potential effectiveness of social robots in helping to care for patients with dementia; see the original version of the story for a second image. –Matthew] How cuddly robots could change dementia care Researchers are using AI and technological advancements to create companion robots By Cassandra WillyardMay 17, 2024[This article first appeared in The Checkup, MIT Technology Review’s weekly biotech newsletter. To receive it in your inbox every Thursday, and read articles like this first, sign up here.] Last week, I scoured…

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  • The real-time deepfake romance scams have arrived

    [The dark side of presence is the focus of this story from Wired about the use of real-time deepfake romance scams. See the original story for two short videos. –Matthew] [Image: Photo illustration credit: Jacqui Vanliew; Getty Images] The Real-Time Deepfake Romance Scams Have Arrived Watch how smooth-talking scammers known as “Yahoo Boys” use widely available face-swapping tech to carry out elaborate romance scams. By Matt BurgessApril 18, 2024 The compliments start flowing as soon as she answers the video call. “Wow, you so pretty, honey,” says the man on the other side of the screen. His video feed shows…

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  • An AI startup made a hyperrealistic deepfake of me that’s so good it’s scary

    [This thoughtful first-person report from MIT Technology Review describes what it’s like to have the AI startup company Synthesia create a synthetic version of yourself, and considers some of the implications of the fast-evolving technology. This is an abridged version of the story; see the unabridged original for more information, many more images, and two videos. –Matthew] [Image: Credit: David Vintiner] An AI startup made a hyperrealistic deepfake of me that’s so good it’s scary Synthesia’s new technology is impressive but raises big questions about a world where we increasingly can’t tell what’s real. By Melissa HeikkiläApril 25, 2024 I’m…

    Read more: An AI startup made a hyperrealistic deepfake of me that’s so good it’s scary
  • HoloBike, a ‘Star Trek’-like holographic bicycle that could make Peloton obsolete

    [Fast Company reports on a new stationary bicycle designed to evoke greater spatial presence and mental engagement in users than the currently available bikes. See the original story for two more images and two videos, and the product’s Kickstarter page for more information. Wired has a somewhat-less-than-enthusiastic review. –Matthew] This ‘Star Trek’-like holographic bicycle could make Peloton obsolete The bike’s specialized display technology tricks your brain into thinking you’re actually riding outdoors. By Jesus DiazMay 10, 2024 Former Google VR researcher Samuel Matson spent the early days of COVID-19 in Colombia. There, he found solace while riding his bike with…

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  • New York-Dublin Portal demonstrates pros and cons of presence

    [A portal that connects New York and Dublin has re-opened following some inappropriate behavior by people in both locations, as reported in this story from RTÉ (Raidió Teilifís Éireann, Ireland’s National Public Service Media). The excerpt from coverage by The Guardian that follows below adds context. For more pictures and videos of the portal, see The Cut. –Matthew] [Image: New Yorkers greet people in Dublin during the reveal of the Portal in the Flatiron district in Manhattan, New York, on May 8, 2024. Credit: Brendan McDermid/Reuters. Source: The Guardian.] ‘Portal’ linking Dublin and NYC restarts with set hours May 19, 2024…

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