With advances in CGI and AI technologies, it is not hard to animate “Still Life” making it appear to resurrect from the dead. This new artificial life is like taking a dead form and giving it motion — giving it a digital life. Perhaps we can call it the Dawn of the Digital Dead — the real “Nature Morte.” Thanks to Deep Fake technology, movie sets are able to raise deceased actors and have them perform on the screen. Moreover, this creates additional concerns about the ethics of digitally reviving our loved ones from the great beyond. What if the metaverse is merely a stepping stone towards a far darker reality, one in which you are no longer in the metaverse, but the metaverse is in you? Tonight on Ground Zero, Clyde Lewis talks about NATURE MORTE – DAWN OF THE DIGITAL DEAD.
If any of you are at all interested in making art — all you need to do is throw together some fruit, a few flowers, and maybe some old wine bottles. Light up the area and maybe put a cloth behind it and you have your model for what is called a “still life” painting. In French this style pf painting is called “Nature Morte” which translates means “dead nature.”
I remember in Junior high I had a teacher who taught me this and gifted me with Charcoal and Pastels in order to create a “Still life.” For some time, I was into drawing and shading, and giving perspective to the objects.
I often thought it was ironic to call these paintings “still life” when most of the objects in the painting or drawing were inanimate.
It was a dichotomy of whether not the painting was alive or dead.
Well of course it is a painting — but it is a snapshot of things that don’t move — something that looks like it is held in stasis –or locked in time.
But with CGI and AI technologies, it is not hard to animate “Still Life” making it appear to resurrect from its dead form. Giving it artificial life . It is like taking a dead form and giving it motion — giving it a digital life– or maybe we can call it the Dawn of the Digital Dead– the real “Nature Morte.”
Which brings me to what I did last night. After watching the season finale of the Star Wars spin-off, Ashoka — the TV recommended that I watch the movie Rogue One. This film is arguably one of the best Star Wars films made, it is right up there with The Empire Strikes Back.
The movie is set in the time just before, Princess Leia meets up with R2D2 to give him the plans to the Death Star –it depicts the struggle and the sacrifice that was made to get the plans into the hands of the Rebel Alliance.
There is however a twist in the fact that two of the stars in the film were dead at the time it was made. Well one of them, Peter Cushing had long since passed, he died in 1994 and played the evil Grand Moff Tarkin, who along with Darth Vader witnessed the destruction of Alderran, Princess Leia’s home planet.
This leads us to the other star that appeared in the film, Carrie Fisher — who emerged as a young Princess Leia. The film was released in 2026 around the time Fisher unexpectedly died.
Thanks to Deep Fake technology they were able to raise these two remarkable characters from the dead and have them perform on screen.
Obviously, both actors could not be replaced, and so they were deep faked for continuity.
This raised a lot of concerns about the ethics of digitally resurrecting actors from the dead.
The visual effects supervisor and co-writer of the Star Wars prequel, John Knoll responded to the critics.
Knoll said: “There are people that have said quite vehemently that it looks terrible and looks like a video game, and I will assert that that is not the case.” The filmmakers used actor Guy Henry as a digital stand-in for Cushing and employed motion capture and a facial-expression tracker to animate footage and photographs of Cushing. Knoll said: “Essentially, we’re using the computer graphics as a tool to alter his appearance.”
As for the ethics of working with images of an actor who died in 1994, Knoll said: “We weren’t doing anything that I think Peter Cushing would’ve objected to. I think this work was done with a great deal of affection and care. We know that Peter Cushing was very proud of his involvement in Star Wars and had said as much and that he regretted that he never got a chance to be in another Star Wars film because George [Lucas] had killed off his character.”
Knoll added: “This was done in consultation and cooperation with his estate. So we wouldn’t do this if the estate had objected or didn’t feel comfortable with this idea.”
Knoll also touched on the digital recreation of Carrie Fisher’s young Princess Leia, as seen in A New Hope, which was accomplished with a similar mix of stand-in, motion capture and archive material. Knoll said he didn’t have direct contact with the actor – who died on December 27, two weeks before the release of the film.
It was one of the first experiences in the uncanny valley for filmgoers — even though many younger versions of living actors have been put in movies using deep fake technology.
It was soon after that the government sent out warnings about Deep Fakes being used for harmful propaganda. It was later that deep fakes of President Biden were being sent out online, and there was also a Putin Video making the rounds as well.
Recently there has been a new controversy over a number of commercials running online featuring deep fakes of Tom Hanks and CBS news personality Gail King.
Both have separately warned their followers on social media that videos using artificial intelligence likenesses of them were being used for fraudulent advertisements.
The Gail King video talks about her weight loss secret — and Tom Hank’s likeness is being used for a Dental plan commercial.
It was unclear what company had used Mr. Hanks’s likeness or what products it was promoting. Mr. Hanks did not tag the company or mention it by name. There was no evidence of the video anywhere on social media.
Representatives for Hanks declined to respond on Monday to questions about the ad, including whether he planned to take legal action or if he had requested that the ad be removed from social media.
Well, this is an interesting twist — the question is why Tom Hanks and why Gail King? This is where we take still life and digitally bring it to life.
It is our foray into reality distortion in real time.
Now I know that both Tom Hanks and Gail King are very much alive — but think of the possibilities of resurrecting the dead using the tools of the metaverse.
Why visit the gravestone of Grandma, when you can pop into the metaverse and have a good old visit with her in some creepy simulation?
The pandemic lockdowns saw a huge adoption of virtual platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams take off across the corporate sphere, and for personal communication with friends and family, as people were imprisoned within their own homes.
It can be forecasted that continued lockdown threats and telecommuting could force people into embracing the metaverse and living a virtual life there –which would guarantee artificial eternal life.
Future generations would be able to live with the routine simulacrum a CGI-like digital representation of their ‘avatar-self’ and interact with Avatars that are remarkably close to the real thing.
We have in the past discussed the rumor that Meta is actually working on something called Project Lazarus. It is an AI that can take over a dead person’s social media accounts and continue to make relevant posts as if the person is still alive.
This includes age-progressed photos, and CGI deep fake avatars interacting with other people’s content. Everything is needed in order to allow a person to live in the digital realm long after they have died.
AI is extremely capable of impersonating a dead loved one.
Ever since the sinister news came out of Amazon’s Alexa being beta tested to “read stories as your dead Grandma”, the evolution of artificial intelligence being able to keep a person’s likeness alive after death has felt wholly unnatural, as well as being geared towards something more grandiose in design.
Will future generations become confused, or even normalize the concept of life and death no longer having any attachment or meaning, at the emotional level of bereavement, for moving on, of letting go?
It is not a stretch of the imagination to consider how this could be weaponized against dissidents to emotionally terrorize and traumatize them, via video messages and even video calls from their dearly departed. That would be very rough emotionally on people.
Imagine getting a phone call that your loved one is in distress. In that moment, your instinct would most likely be to do anything to help them get out of danger’s way, including wiring money.
There was a story recently about a 73-year-old woman named Ruth, got a phone call from a person she thought was her grandson. He told her he was in jail, with no wallet or cell phone, and needed cash fast. As any other concerned grandparent would, Ruth and her husband rushed to the bank to get the money.
It was only after going to the second bank that the bank manager warned them that they had seen a similar case before that ended up being a scam — and this one was likely a scam, too.
Mark Zuckerberg of Meta believes that it would be great to create a digital AI version of one’s self, especially someone with a large following on a podcast so that their followers could ‘interact’ with ‘them’ – because after all, “there are only so many hours in the day.”
Mark Zuckerberg recently demoed his humanlike VR avatars in an interview in the Metaverse. He was asked about how the tech could be used to create virtual versions of deceased loved ones.
Zuckerberg said it was a complex idea but said there was “probably some balance” for the concept.
The media was impressed by how realistic Meta’s new avatars were – a vast improvement from its previous attempts with the technology that were savagely mocked online.
At first Avatars looked like Lego blocks and then cartoon characters — but now the avatars are uncannily advanced.
Now we have to deal with the macabre possibility of being resurrected in the metaverse.
I think it would be creepy, to have an AI version of me continuing to do shows and make appearances — i don’t know if I would mind it — but I wouldn’t be able to stop it because of course I would be dead in the real world- but continuing life in the metaverse.
Whenever we decide to run a rerun show, I have a lot of fans who worry about me. I am humbled and quite appreciative of concerns when this happens. I rarely take time off and when I do, it is usually for a good reason. I am a workaholic — my staff will back me up on that.
But sometimes I think of how it would be nice to have an AI version of me fill in and do a show — it seems that it would be convincing enough — but of course, something like that would put me out of a job.
I miss my dad and mom — both are gone, and some of my best friends growing up are gone–but would I want to see them living in the metaverse — the prospect is intriguing but I would probably lean towards not wanting to talk with them — it would be hard to process.
Would you consider having a loved one digitally resurrected in order to have face time to chat with them?
We know that in the future AI bots may one day be able to interact with the loved ones of the deceased by adopting the dead users’ mannerisms, chat styles and digital personalities to interact as authentically as possible.
Perhaps some rogue algorithm is already raising dead loved ones from the digital grave.
I know that death is a hard thing to talk about – I mean it is really hard to actually think about that there will be a time when you won’t exist anymore and while it is comforting to think that this is not the end for you spiritually, it may be a bit weird to think about how many of us will live on digitally.
Yes, we now live in an age where when you pass away, you have to also contemplate how you will live in an afterlife online.
You may even have to specify in your last will and testament as to whether or not you want to live on in the metaverse.
There is a willingness in this world for people to adopt new things because they are told to do so. There is also a willingness for people to sit back and let the course of human evolution be decided for them.
Who said that merging with AI is inevitable? It’s only inevitable if we decide to do it.
The idea of inevitability has been programmed into us. It’s a form of brainwashing. Nonetheless, as a society, we are on the precipice of a revolution – a change so big that it could irreversibly alter the very structure of human society and the way we form relationships, as well as completely redefine the nature of transaction and exchange.
The Metaverse, The blockchain, and the digital financial transaction are all part of the transhuman technological fascism.
But there are still so many unanswered questions that go beyond the ethics of raising the dead online.
How will our collective morality be affected if people begin living parts of their lives in a virtual reality where they can do “anything” without fear of retribution? Where do we draw the line between “it’s just a game” and “you should go to prison for that”?
What about pedophiles, who create child-like avatars, for sexual gratification? If the child is not real — is there really a crime committed?
These are important questions that require careful consideration. In fact, there have already been reports of people being sexually harassed in VR and the problem is only likely to get worse.
Young people now, have friends online– faceless friends, young people get marriage proposals online — from faceless companions.
We now have a generation that has grown up playing violent video games and having their minds raped by AI algorithms, feeding them all manner of abhorrent videos on TikTok.
They are the perfect target market for VR and other mind-numbing technologies that transhumanists are desperately pushing on society. It’s almost like they’ve been primed for it.
Gen Z in the metaverse has none of the social constraints associated with their physical identities, something unthinkable to every previous generation in history. We have to consider the implications of this from a sociological, philosophical and psychological perspective. How will this affect their personal development?
These are serious concerns that nobody seems interested in tackling.
Furthermore, what if the metaverse is merely a stepping stone towards a far darker reality, one in which you are no longer in the metaverse, but the metaverse is in you?
These technologies are slowly integrated into society, each serving as a stepping stone for the next until society finds itself embedded in a digital hell –we become slaves with huge screens strapped to our faces.
Follow the white rabbit Neo — the digital rabbit hole is going to show you people from the past present and future.
The new Matrix will be the “network state”, the digital version of the nation-state. Or perhaps even Nature Morte.
The Dawn of the Digital Dead –where all the entities are empty avatars with no souls.