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6 November, 2003

Avatars

Not much to say about this article discussing hyper-realistic digital human models, other than to offer the link and mention it's a subject that's interested me for several years.

I'd been aware of it earlier, but the concept of 'virtual people' was focused for me when I read William Gibson's 'Idoru' in 1996 (mentioned in the Guardian's article, in fact). The events of that book centre on Rei Toei, an artificially intelligent 'virtual' pop star. A subsequent book liberates her from the metal cylinder of her generating hardware into the internet; a sentience inhabiting the unregarded spare processing power of the world's computers.

That's still some way off reality, of course, but I was also interested by the phenomenon of the ridiculously-proportioned Lara Croft. First a sprite in a computer game, then a cover girl of 'The Face', then the star of 'Lucozade' adverts, Lara began to assume as substantial a presence in popular culture as a typical transitory pop star or minor celebrity.
The animated Lara was entirely a construct with no physical reality, but when one only sees a 'real' person on TV or in a magazine, what practical difference is there to the viewer?

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