Another dot in the blogosphere?

They said it couldn’t be done

Posted on: November 1, 2014

Watch these two short videos.

Video source

Video source

What do these two videos have in common?

None of the items in the first video was real. They were all computer generated. The orangutan in the second video was also a product of computer-generated imagery (CGI).

A few years ago, they said that it could not be done. If it could, people wondered if we would still need actors, props, and other movie-making paraphernalia.

Video source

If you have watched Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, you have an intermediate answer. Actors like Andy Serkis (the main protagonist, Caesar) do motion capture. They are still part of the process, but the other half of the work is down to the computer animator.

Video source

We might react viscerally to such change. We argue that machines and animations cannot replace people or replicate nuance. Not yet in entirety anyway.

As with most technology-led change, the push and pull factors are initially efficiency-oriented. Movie-making with CGI will be cheaper and faster, and for certain scenes or genres, the only way.

Over time, it will be harder to tell the difference between what is “real” and what is CGI. We move away from efficiency to effectiveness. The videos above are already a testament to this.

Initially our minds are tricked into believing what is real. We are then convinced it is real. Eventually it does not matter when we believe it is real. Then heart understands what the mind already knows.

Many people also react emotionally to people using mobile devices as social intermediaries, kids learning in ways we do not understand (e.g., gaming, YouTube), teachers being pushed off the sage stage. These are the same people who might cite dystopian “realities” from science fiction movies like WALL-E as if they are inevitable.

They might not understand that we shape our technology and then the technology invariably shapes us.

We are not going to lose our humanity because we embrace technology. The technologies enable us to do things, and to teach and to learn in ways we could not before. They enable us to focus on better things if we use them wisely.

Instead of focusing on what far-fetched bad things might happen, why not focus on more plausible good?

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