Keanu Reeves calls the Metaverse a System of Control

In a Wired interview, Keanu Reeves, best known for playing Neo in the Matrix, recently discussed his thoughts on tech issues such as AI, deepfakes, and the Metaverse. He also revealed that to maintain control over his performances he prevented them from being digitally altered without his permission. Reeves likened the Metaverse to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, saying:

“It’s this sensorium. It’s a spectacle, and it’s a system of control and manipulation. We’re on our knees, looking at cave walls and seeing the projections, and we’re not having the chance to look behind us. Or to the side.” 

Plato’s allegory “The Cave” describes a group of people chained to a cave wall, only able to perceive the shadows of objects passing in front of a fire. These shadows represent the fragment of reality we can normally perceive through our senses. The inmates of the cave do not seek to leave their prison as they know no better life.

In the Matrix, Reeves plays the hacker Neo, who realises his true nature and that the world he inhabits is an artificial construct. Much like the inmates of the cave, Neo has become comfortable living in a prison of his own making, believing it to be the only reality. He must then choose between escaping to a new world of freedom or remaining in ignorance and comfort. This parallels Plato’s allegory in which a prisoner must ascend out of the cave and into the sunlight, a metaphor for knowledge and understanding.

Reeves also warns that AI technologies could soon be replacing the work of writers and artists and advises us to be wary of it happening soon. Creators must discover the reality of their works to retain control and not be replaced. He emphasises the need for creators to be vigilant and protect their rights. Technology has made it easier for art and other media to be created without proper credit or compensation. He encourages creators to stay informed about technological advances and not let large companies take advantage of them.

The rise of artificial intelligence and the Metaverse could lead us down a dark path, much like in The Matrix. AI and deepfakes could be used to manipulate data and create false realities, leading to a further loss of trust in the mainstream news media and a proliferation of disinformation. In the Matrix, humans are enslaved by a powerful AI system, disconnected from reality and unable to make their own decisions. If we let it, the Metaverse could become a dystopian digital prison controlled by machines and monitored by AI algorithms. Human activity would be strictly monitored and those breaking rules would face harsh punishments.

We are at a crossroads where one path leads to a virtual nightmare and the other to a free and open virtual Universe with artificial intelligence to enlighten our journey. The Metaverse is going to need comprehensive privacy laws and regulations that protect individuals from unfair or unethical data monitoring and exploitation. To empower users to decide how their data is used and shared by companies. We must ensure that AI algorithms are programmed with ethical principles.

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