Incredible New Augmented Reality Film Is Also Terrifying

Incredible New Augmented Reality Film Is Also Terrifying

Keiichi Matsuda has just created a vision of the near-future and it's stunning, super-charged and also terrifying. The tech giants in Silicon Valley produce extremely sterile visions of the tech-utopian future and none of them capture what could really be around the corner. The film, Hyper-Reality, shows us that the future could be claustrophobic, incredibly stimulating, invasive and unnerving:

The six-minute film depicts a woman as she goes about her normal day. However, this normal day is set in the future, so everything in her world has been enhanced with computer graphics, social network updates, advertisements, games and the constant reminder to "Level Up". She even is accompanied by a virtual pet dog who hops on top of her shopping cart, reminding her of which products contain loyalty points. What's really striking in the grocery store scene is when the augmented reality stream gets interrupted and she goes back to "normal" life without any digital enhancements. The feeling is similar to the one when your smartphone dies, and you're left without any digital input.

hyperreality2[Image Source: YouTube still from Hyper-Reality video]

The disturbing aspect comes into to play when she expresses some real needs, and a virtual inspiration guru pops up with canned responses that don't truly help her. The inspiration guru that appears in her augmented reality stream is part of a gig app that assigns her short-term jobs. He tells her that she had better hurry up to ensure she gets a good rating from her customer. She asks him, "Are you sure there aren't any other jobs out there? I studied to be a teacher but now I'm just grocery shopping for someone." The inspiration guru gives a canned, sterile response, "And you get to keep the loyalty points too, you lucky monkey! Trust the app, it always chooses the right jobs for you. Are you feeling inspired?"

This interchange which is between a human and an artificially intelligent app seems to be a fairly realistic portrayal of the future. The divide between our real needs and the canned answers that AI provides is huge. The last sentence, "Are you feeling inspired?" is particularly unnerving since the woman already stated that she is feeling dissatisfied and undervalued. How many times have you been on the phone with an AI operator and you cannot get your needs met? It happens all the time.

hyperreal[Image Source: YouTube still from Hyper-Reality video]

When the woman's identity comes into to question and all of her points disappear in the process, it feels eerily similar to what's already happening in our current world. Our identities are increasingly tied up with a digital version of ourselves. If our personal digital identity is corrupted by either a technical glitch or hackers, the results can be quite devastating, at least in the short term.

hyperreal3[Image Source: YouTube still from Hyper-Reality video]

Religion is suggested through digital cues once the woman's hand is hurt and she is in pain. Notice how Catholicism is powered by a corporation called "Bully!" and how even religion is reduced to the game mentality, complete with leveling up.

Article written by Leah Stephens. She is a writer, artist, and experimenter. She recently self-published her first book, Un-Crap Your LifeYou can follow her on Twitter or Medium.

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Written by Leah Stephens

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