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Metaphysic, AI startup behind Tom Cruise deepfakes, raises $7.5M

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Metaphysic, the company behind the Tom Cruise deepfakes, has raised $7.5 million.

The London-based company develops artificial intelligence for hyperreal virtual experiences in the metaverse, the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One.

The company raised the money from Section 32, 8VC, TO Ventures, Winklevoss Capital and Logan Paul.

The funding will help expand Metaphysic’s work on synthetic content creation tools for emergent metaverse worlds that are being built by Facebook and other networks.

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In addition to developing technology to scale hyperreal experiences in the metaverse, Metaphysic is aiming its synthetic media to connect influencers and their audiences in novel ways — including via deepfake videos — that are hyperrealistic, ethically created and uniquely compelling.

In a statement, Metaphysic CEO Thomas Graham said the funding is a critical step in the company’s mission to build core infrastructure for the metaverse and, in turn, help anyone create hyperreal virtual experiences and other content that is limited only by the imagination.

“We’re thrilled to have the support of amazing investors who have deep experience scaling novel technologies and creating cutting-edge, viral content. Together, we will build artificial intelligence and data management tools that let creators import their perception of reality into virtual worlds,” said Graham. “Forward-thinking investors and content creators understand that the future of the human experience is heading into the digital realm and, in turn, are excited by Metaphysic’s groundbreaking technology that elevates the quality of digital experiences to such a high extent that there is a seamless transition between the metaverse and real-life itself.”

Hyperreal synthetic media is already being used in a number of ways, sharpening viewers’ ability to suspend disbelief and become more deeply immersed in imaginary worlds. Studios can create hyper-real content without shooting in person, or reconstruct old, low-resolution footage to update fan favorites. Last spring, Metaphysic made a splash with deepfakes of Tom Cruise pulling off, among other amusing things, playing Dave Matthews Band’s hit song Crash.

This turned heads globally because of the technology’s realistic rendering of one of the world’s most widely known actors that, in turn, had other celebrities such as Justin Bieber thinking it was real.

“Metaphysic’s work goes beyond entertainment and content — it is about building connections among people, and creating a more seamless interface between reality and the time we spend online,” said Bill Maris, founder of Section 32, a venture capital fund focusing on frontier technologies, in a statement. “The team’s commitment to ethical and out-of-the-box applications of this fast-developing technology is important as we gravitate to all-digital platforms that some refer to as the metaverse. I look forward to continuing to work with this great team.”

Founded by the creators of @DeepTomCruise, Metaphysic has worked with such brands as South Park, Gillette, and The Belgian Football Association.

Metaphysic has a team of 15 to 20 people, and it is hiring. I asked what kind of ethical guidelines it is standing by. Graham said in an email, “The ethical production of hyperreal synthetic media and the responsible development of technologies that enable its creation are critical to the DNA of Metaphysic. Informed consent of the person whose synthetic likeness is being created, appropriate labelling of manipulated media, raising public awareness, and responsible distribution of technologies that create hyperreal synthetic media are all key guidelines that inform how we think about building products and content.”

Asked about the inspiration for the company, Graham said for a long time the founding team has been focussed on the creative possibilities that flow from fully synthetic and automated content creation.

“We are proud participants in the creative VFX / generative AI-content communities, so making amazing and joyful content – along with raising public awareness – is close to our hearts,” Graham said. “Another inspiration is to help design a future for the metaverse where users own their own synthetic likenesses and the deeply personal biometric data powers them – with the help of AI models. We hope this will lead to more inclusive economies built around web3 and the user data that powers our personalised hyperreal metaverse experience.”

I asked whether the tech could still be used in unethical ways and how it could stop that.

“At Metaphysic, we believe that there is an urgent need for constructive dialogue between technologists, politicians, industry leaders and rights activists to advance our shared vision for the tremendous impact the metaverse will have on society and our daily lives,” Graham said.

He said there are millions of ways that synthetic media can enrich creative potential and lead to a better online experience for everyone, and there is also a lot of hard work and collaboration required to reduce the potential harm from nefarious and unethical uses of manipulated media.

“We all need to contribute to helping the public better understand the potentially harmful uses of synthetic media and reduce its virality,” Graham said. “We also need to work with policymakers to recognise a range of new offenses, including those related to online bullying and digital sexual violence, involving synthetic media and deepfakes.”

So far the industry has been diligent in not making hyperreal synthetic media creation technologies easily accessible and open to abuse, he said.

“Ultimately, the full potential and creative joy that is unlocked by AI-assisted content will be realized when industry, creators and consumers take responsibility for their content they make, distribute and consume,” Graham said.

There are a number of great startups working on all types of synthetic media at the moment. There are also major tech, gaming and entertainment companies working on content creation platforms to bring users into the metaverse. The real competition is between open and closed systems — between the winners of Web2 and more decentralised organisations, Graham said.

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Identity in the metaverse: Creating a global identity system

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With the advent of the metaverse, the need for a global identity system has become apparent. There are many different ways to create an identity in the metaverse, but no single system is universally accepted. 

The challenge is usually two-fold: first, how to create an identity that is accepted by all the different platforms and services in the metaverse, and second, how to keep track of all the different identities a person may have.

There are many proposed solutions to these challenges, but no clear consensus has emerged. Some believe that a single, global identity system is the only way to ensure interoperability between different platforms and services. Others believe that multiple identities are necessary to allow people to maintain their privacy and security.

The debate is ongoing, but it is clear that the need for a global identity system is becoming more urgent as the metaverse continues to grow.

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In this article, we will explore the various options for creating a global identity system in the metaverse. We will discuss the pros and cons of each option, and try to identify the best solution for the future.

Option 1: A single global identity

The simplest solution to the problem of identity in the metaverse is to create a single, global identity system. This would be a centralized system that would be responsible for managing all identities in the metaverse. 

The advantages of this approach are obvious: It would be much easier to keep track of identities, and there would be no need to worry about different platforms and services accepting different identities. In addition, a centralized identity system would allow for better security and privacy controls, as well as the ability to track identity theft and fraud.

However, this approach also has several disadvantages. First, it would be very difficult to create a global identity system that is accepted by everyone. Also, a centralized system would be vulnerable to attack and could be used to track people’s movements and activities. Third, it would be difficult to protect the privacy of users in a centralized system.

Option 2: Multiple identities

Another solution to the problem of identity in the metaverse is to allow each person to have multiple identities. This would mean that each person could have one or more identities that they use for different purposes. 

One of the main advantages of this approach is that it would allow people to maintain their privacy and security. Each person could choose which identity to use for each situation, and they would not have to worry about their entire identity being exposed. In addition, this approach would be more resilient to attack, as it would be much harder to take down multiple identities than a single one.

The limitations of such an approach would be that it could be difficult to keep track of all the different identities, and there would be no guarantee that different platforms and services would accept all of them. In addition, multiple identities could lead to confusion and could make it more difficult for people to build trust with others.

Option 3: A decentralized identity system

A third solution to the problem of identity in the metaverse is to create a decentralized identity system. This would be an identity system that is not controlled by any one centralized authority but rather is distributed among many different nodes. 

This might seem like the ideal approach, since decentralization is a common theme in the metaverse. However, there are still some challenges that need to be overcome. For instance, it would need to be ensured that all the different nodes in the system are properly synchronized and that the system as a whole is secure. In addition, it might be difficult to get people to adopt such a system if they are used to the more traditional centralized approach.

One solution would be to get the nodes in the system to be run by different organizations. This would help to decentralize the system and make it more secure. Another advantage of this approach is that it would allow different organizations to offer their own identity services, which could be more tailored to their needs.

Another would be to incorporate an edge computing solution into the system. This would allow for more decentralized processing of data and could help to improve performance. It would also make the system more resilient to attack since there would be no centralized point of failure.

The best solution for the future of identity in the metaverse is likely to be a combination of these approaches. A centralized system might be necessary to provide a basic level of identity services, but it should be supplemented by a decentralized system that is more secure and resilient. Ultimately, the goal should be to create an identity system that is both easy to use and secure.

The ideal identity standards of the metaverse

Now that we have explored the various options for identity in the metaverse, we can start to identify the ideal standards that should be met by any future global identity system. 

It is no easy task to create a global identity system that meets all of the criteria, but it is important to strive for an ideal solution. After all, the metaverse is still in its early stages, and the decisions made now will have a lasting impact on its future. 

Current iterations of the metaverse have used very traditional approaches to identity, but it is time to start thinking outside the box. The ideal solution will be one that is secure, private, decentralized, and easy to use. It will be a solution that allows people to maintain their privacy while still being able to interact with others in the metaverse. 

Most importantly, it will be a solution that can be accepted and used by everyone. Only then can we hope to create a truly global identity system for the metaverse.

The bottom line on identity in the metaverse

The question of identity in the metaverse is a complex one, but it is an important issue that needs to be addressed. 

The challenges associated with creating an implementation that is secure, private and decentralized are significant, but they are not insurmountable. For one, it will be important to get buy-in from organizations that have a vested interest in the metaverse. These organizations can help to promote and support the adoption of identity standards. 

It is also important to keep in mind that the metaverse is still evolving, and the solution that is ideal today might not be ideal tomorrow. As such, it will be critical to have a flexible identity system that can adapt as the needs of the metaverse change. 

Ultimately, the goal should be to create an identity system that is both easy to use and secure. Only then can we hope to create a truly global identity system for the metaverse.

Daniel Saito is CEO and cofounder of StrongNode

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How to Eliminate Scheduling Inefficiencies in Your Business

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What do salons, consultancies, and home service providers all have in common? This question may seem like the prime setup for a joke, but there’s no punchline to look forward…

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Why You Should Start a Business Only While You Have a Job

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Many people that I meet tell me that they dream of starting their own . I always ask them, “Then why don’t you?” They typically respond by saying that they have so many financial and personal responsibilities, that they can’t just quit their job to start a company, etc. Then I tell them my story …



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Related: How to Use Your Current Job to Start Your Next Business

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