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In Facebook’s vision of the metaverse, we will all interact in a mashup of the digital and physical worlds. Digital representations of ourselves will eat, talk, date, shop, and more. That’s the picture Mark Zuckerberg painted as he rebranded his company Meta a couple of weeks ago.

The Facebook founder’s typically awkward presentation used a cartoon avatar of himself doing things like scuba diving or conducting meetings. But Zuckerberg ultimately expects the metaverse to include lifelike avatars whose features would be much more realistic, and which would engage in many of the same activities we do in the real world—just digitally.

“The goal here is to have both realistic and stylized avatars that create a deep feeling that we’re present with people,” Zuckerberg said at the rebranding.

If avatars really are on their way, then we’ll need to face some tough questions about how we present ourselves to others. How might these virtual versions of ourselves change the way we feel about our bodies, for better or worse?

Avatars are not a new concept, of course. Gamers have used them for decades: the pixelated, boxy creatures of Super Mario have given way to the hyperrealistic forms ofDeath Stranding,which emote and move eerily like a living, breathing human. 

But how we use avatars becomes more complicated when we expect them to act as representations of ourselves beyond the context of a particular game. It’s one thing to inhabit the overalls and twang of Mario. It’s another to create an avatar that acts as your ambassador, your representation, your very self. The avatars of the metaverse will be participating in situations that might involve higher stakes than treasure in a race. In interviews or meetings, this self-presentation might play a bigger, far more consequential role. 

For some people, avatars that reflect who they are would be a powerful source of validation. But creating one can be a struggle. Gamer Kirby Crane, for example, recently ran an experiment where he tried to do one simple thing: make an avatar that looked like him in 10 different video games.

Thread:

Hi, I’m Kirby! I like video games, and I’ve always been a fan of avatar creators. However, as fat, gay, pre-medical transition trans man, I’m usually not represented by my avatar. For @GamerTroublePhD ‘s class, I am trying to make myself in 10 avatar creators from games pic.twitter.com/i5yTJN6T7a

— kirby

(@kirbygcrane) May 18, 2021

“My goal wasn’t so much to explore the philosophy of avatars but more to explore the representation that’s available in current avatars and see if I could portray myself accurately,” says Crane, who describes himself as a “fat, gay, pre–medical transition trans man.”

Some games allowed him to bulk up his body but bizarrely had him burst out of his clothes if he tried to make the character fat. Other games didn’t allow for an avatar to be male with breasts, which Crane found isolating, as it suggested that the only way to be male was to be male-presenting.

None of the avatars, in the end, felt like Crane—a result he wasn’t surprised by. “Not that I need validation from random game developers, but it’s dehumanizing to see the default man and the accepted parameters of what it means,” he says. 

Crane’s experiment isn’t scientific, nor is it any indication of how the metaverse will operate. But it offers a peek into why avatars in the metaverse could have far-reaching consequences for how people feel and live in the real, physical world. 

What complicates the issue further is Meta’s announcement of Codec Avatars, a project within Facebook’s VR/AR research arm, Reality Labs, that is working toward making photorealistic avatars. Zuckerberg highlighted some of the advances the group has made in making avatars seem more human, such as clearer emotions and better rendering of hair and skin.

“You’re not always going to want to look exactly like yourself,” he said. “That’s why people shave their beards, dress up, style their hair, put on makeup, or get tattoos, and of course, you’ll be able to do all of that and more in the metaverse.”

That hyperpersonalization could allow avatars to realistically portray the lived experience of millions of people who, like Crane, have thus far found the technology limiting. But people might also do the opposite and create avatars that are idealized, unhealthy versions of themselves: puffing out their lips and butt to Kardashian-ify their appearance, lightening their skin to play into racist stereotypes, whitewashing their culture by changing features outright.

In other words, what happens if the avatar you present isn’t who you are? Does it matter?

Jennifer Ogle of Colorado State University and

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By: Tanya Basu
Title: The metaverse is the next venue for body dysmorphia online
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2021/11/16/1040174/facebook-metaverse-body-dysmorphia/
Published Date: Tue, 16 Nov 2021 09:30:00 +0000

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LATAM crypto exchange Bitso and FMF launch NFT of Mexico’s National Team jerseys

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Bitso, a leading cryptocurrency platform operating in Latin America, and the Mexican Football Federation (FMF), today announced the joint launch of the first collectible NFT of the Mexico National Team’s jerseys that was acquired in cryptocurrencies.

This morning through their social media platforms, the FMF and Bitso announced the opportunity to acquire the new official National Team fan jerseys ahead of the team’s participation in the 2022 World Cup. In just 20 minutes, the entire collection sold out.

bitsonftjeysey
The NFTs of the jerseys have an exclusive design for the metaverse – each is unique on the blockchain and can be resold by its owner in subsequent transactions.

The collection consisted of 100 official physical jerseys, each with a corresponding NFT version of the jersey that fans’ avatars can wear within the Decentraland metaverse. Each physical and NFT jersey set sold for the equivalent of $1,800 MXN in ethers.

“Our mission is to make cryptocurrency useful in the everyday life of Mexicans; we are committed to spreading the technology through innovative opportunities that help people throughout the country familiarize themselves with this new world. We are very excited to offer the incredible, historic opportunity for the fans of our National Team so that through their Bitso account, they can wear the colors of the National Team on and ‘off’ the field in the metaverse.”
– Bárbara González Briseño, General Director of Bitso México

Jersey NFTs

Created by Bitso, the virtual jersey sports the official colors of Mexico and the new National Team shield, characteristics that will make it stand out when users wear it in the virtual world of Decentraland.

The post LATAM crypto exchange Bitso and FMF launch NFT of Mexico’s National Team jerseys appeared first on CryptoNinjas.

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By: CryptoNinjas.net
Title: LATAM crypto exchange Bitso and FMF launch NFT of Mexico’s National Team jerseys
Sourced From: www.cryptoninjas.net/2022/07/29/latam-crypto-exchange-bitso-and-fmf-launch-nft-of-mexicos-national-team-jerseys/
Published Date: Fri, 29 Jul 2022 15:19:02 +0000

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Long-running crypto exchange EXMO unveils “lively” rebrand amidst growth

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EXMO, a crypto exchange platform operating since 2014, announced this week a rebranded visual identity with includes a new logo, brand colors, and design features. This new branding comes as EXMO continues to grow its crypto platform while also seeking to expand its presence in other jurisdictions.

Some new developments underway at EXMO:

Soon, users will be able to earn passive income from EXMO’s new staking platform.Plans to launch an EXMO crypto debit card.Expansion of its services in international markets with the opening of offices in Poland and Lithuania.

EXMO’s new logo

The rationale for the re-brand:

“At EXMO, we have a vision of a world where crypto is in every wallet. Hassle-free. We want to achieve this by making crypto as simple and accessible to everyone as possible. And we know that you already appreciate EXMO for offering user-friendly services and helpful support. Also for the opportunity to trade anywhere and anytime, closing deals in just a few taps. Such important changes required a rethinking of our corporate style, which has long needed a massive upgrade. So today we are introducing a new brand identity for EXMO with a completely new visual concept. We are launching a new logo, brand colors, and design elements. Our key design principles are simplicity, boldness, and a pinch of fun. But most importantly, we have changed our logo. Simple and easily recognizable, it represents the humanity of our brand. The logo stands out due to the wavy letter ‘m’ which symbolizes exchange rate charts and also resembles a spring that will launch you into the crypto world.”
– The EXMO Team regarding the re-branding

The post Long-running crypto exchange EXMO unveils “lively” rebrand amidst growth appeared first on CryptoNinjas.

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By: CryptoNinjas.net
Title: Long-running crypto exchange EXMO unveils “lively” rebrand amidst growth
Sourced From: www.cryptoninjas.net/2022/07/26/long-running-crypto-exchange-exmo-unveils-lively-rebrand-amidst-growth/
Published Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2022 08:10:38 +0000

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Stitching together the grid will save lives as extreme weather worsens

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The blistering heat waves that set temperature records across much of the US in recent days have strained electricity systems, threatening to knock out power in vulnerable regions of the country. 

The electricity has largely stayed online so far this summer, but there have been scattered problems and close calls already. 

Heavy use of energy-sucking air-conditioners is the biggest problem. But intense heat can also reduce the output of power plants, blow transformers, and force power lines to sag. Severe droughts across large parts of the country have also significantly reduced the availability of hydroelectric power, according to the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC). 

It’s unlikely to get better soon. A number of grid operators may struggle to meet peak summer demand, creating the risk of rolling blackouts, the NERC report notes.

The nation’s isolated and antiquated grids are in desperate need of upgrades to keep the lights, heat, and air-conditioning on in the midst of extreme weather events that climate change is making more common, severe, and dangerous. One clear way to ease many of these issues is to more tightly integrate the country’s regional grids, stitching them together with more long-range transmission lines. 

If electricity generated in one area can be more easily shared across much wider regions, power can simply flow to where it’s needed at those moments when customers crank up air-conditioners en masse, or when power plants or fuel supply lines fail amid soaring temperatures, wildfires, hurricanes, or other events, says Liza Reed, a research manager focused on transmission at the Niskanen Center, a Washington, DC, think tank.  

The problem is it’s proved difficult to build more long-range transmission and grid interconnections for a variety of reasons, including the permitting challenges of erecting wires through private and public lands across cities, counties, and states and the reluctance of local authorities to forfeit control or submit to greater federal oversight.

The case of Texas

The unreliability of the US grid is not a new problem. Severe heat and winter storms have repeatedly exposed the frailty of electricity systems in recent years, leaving thousands to millions of people without power as temperatures spiked or plunged.

One of the fundamental challenges is that the grids today are highly fragmented. There are three main electricity networks within the US: the Eastern Grid, the Western Grid, and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). But there are numerous regional transmission organizations within those first two systems, including the California Independent System Operator, Southwest Power Pool, PJM Interconnection, New York ISO, and more. 

These grids form a complex web of networks operating under different regulators, rules and market structures, and often with limited connections between them.

Map USA grid
A variety of regional transmission organizations oversee different parts of the nation’s aging and fragmented grids, which operate under different rules and with often limited connections between them.
legend

ERCOT is especially isolated, in part because of the desire among local politicians, citizens, and power companies to avoid added competition, the hassle of following other states’ rules, and oversight from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). But the state offers a case study in why that can be a serious problem amid increasingly harsh climate conditions, Reed says.

The Texas grid operator pleaded with customers several times earlier this month to cut electricity use as blistering summer temperatures created  demand surges that threatened to outstrip supply and require rolling blackouts.  Low wind conditions, cloud cover, and outages at fossil-fuel power plants added to the strains.

Shutting off the electricity needed to run air-conditioning in triple-digit temperatures

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By: James Temple
Title: Stitching together the grid will save lives as extreme weather worsens
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2022/07/28/1056483/stitching-together-the-grid-will-save-lives-as-extreme-weather-worsens/
Published Date: Thu, 28 Jul 2022 08:00:00 +0000

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