The metaverse is real: Zuck's 'incredible' photorealistic tech wows crypto twitter


While critics have been busy writing eulogies for Meta’s metaverse dream over the last few years, Mark Zuckerberg’s latest demonstration of its photorealistic avatars shows it could be pretty far from dead after all.

Appearing on a Sept. 28 episode of the Lex Fridman podcast, Zuckerberg and the popular computer scientist engaged in a one-hour face-to-face conversation. Only, it wasn’t actually in person at all.

Instead, the entirety of Fridman and Zuckerberg’s conversation used photorealistic realistic avatars in the metaverse, facilitated through Meta’s Quest 3 headsets and noise-canceling headphones.

Observers often have fun ridiculing Meta for dumping billions of dollars into metaverse research only to seemingly produce cartoonish avatars and wonky-looking legs.

However, in this case, users on social media, including those from Crypto Twitter, seemed to be genuinely impressed by the sophistication of the technology.

“Ok the metaverse is officially real,” wrote pseudonymous account Gaut, a rare moment of seemingly genuine praise from a user typically known for his satirical and sarcastic takes on current events.

“9 minutes into Lex / Mark metaverse podcast I forgot I was watching avatars,” wrote coder Jelle Prins.

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Fridman and Zuckerberg speaking as virtual avatars in the metaverse. Source: Lex Fridman Podcast.

Fridman also shared his impressions of the experience in real-time, noting how “close” Zuckerberg felt to him during the interview. Moments later, he explained how difficult it was to recognize that Zuckerberg’s avatar wasn’t his physical body.

“I’m already forgetting that you’re not real.”

The technology on display is the newest version of Codec Avatars. First revealed in 2019, Codec Avatars is one of Meta’s longest-running research projects which aims to create fully photorealistic real-time avatars that work by way of headsets with face tracking sensors.

Related: Meta refutes claims of copyright infringement in AI training

However, users may need to wait a few years before donning their own realistic avatars, said Zuckerberg, explaining that the tech used requires expensive machine learning software and full head scans by specialized equipment featuring more than 100 different cameras.

This would be, at the very least, three years away from being available to everyday consumers, he said.

Still, Zuckerberg noted that the company wants to reduce the barriers as much as possible, explaining that in the future, these scans may be achievable with a regular smartphone.

The most-recent demonstration comes just one day after Meta unveiled its answer to ChatGPT, revealing its newest AI assistant Meta AI, which is integrated across a range of unique chatbots, apps and even smart glasses.

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