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Source: Mona Lisa Overdrive, Page: 132

You found it repeatedly in the eyes of Marie-France, pinned it in a slow zoom against the shadowed orbits of the skull. Early on she ceased to allow her image to be recorded. You worked with what you had. You justified her image, rotated her through planes of light, planes of shadow, generated models, mapped her skull in grids of neon. You used special programs to age her images according to statistical models, animation systems to bring your mature Marie-France to life. You reduced her image to a vast but finite number of points and stirred them, let new forms emerge, chose those that seemed to speak to you?

Our Thoughts on this Quote

This quote is fairly complex, with several different possibilities occurring. All are accurate and foreshadowing both of things to come and things already here.

Beyond the prose's exposé of the mind of an artist, working to create that one perfect image, this touches on privacy, personal identity, and the ability to fabricate in order to recreate reality.

In the quote, Marie-France does not allow photographs of her to be taken any more, although she once did. Thus, it falls to complex facial ageing algorithms to take those young faces and computationally age them according to different parameters. This is something already done today, using mainframe processors. As technology advances, and such power becomes relegated to the desktop, a scenario such as the above, working on the model of someone's head (which was rendered in 3D from a simple photograph) becomes very likely. A scenario where dozens of different parameters are tried, and a 3D model is aged, or altered it to show weight gain, weight loss, sunburn, skin disease, or any number of other parameters, is already possible on specialised systems.

Suddenly the paparazzi don't need to chase celebrities to get a photograph; they can take an older one, alter it to any one of infinite possible scenarios, and adorn it however they like, to create an image either indistinguishable from the real thing, or even clearer and more lifelike than life.

This raises privacy issues. If someone does not desire their photograph to be taken, it can still be obtained from their younger self. It can in fact, still be taken, even after their demise if necessary.

Going one step further, if you can create a perfectly realistic 3D image of someone, morphed to take on characteristics however you see fit, and you know where the bone joints are, you can animate that image, and create a walking, talking, facsimile of the original. Moving like her, sounding like her, but able to be put into any situation of your own imagination.

What becomes of law-abiding behaviour, when a perfectly reconstructed, flawless video image of you can be created, doing any manner of heinous act? This, given the current speed of computing power upgrades, should be possible for the professional by 2020.

Flipping that on its head, you have an animatable, flawless, 3D image of a celebrity. Forward another decade or so, in order to have home computing power catch up. Anyone can don the skin of a famous person, impersonate their mannerisms, look and sound just like them, whilst they interact online.

New personal identity laws may be required, just to cope.

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About the Book 'Mona Lisa Overdrive'
By William Gibson
Produced By Spectra

Mona Lisa Overdrive, penned in 1988, is the third and final book of William Gibson?s Sprawl trilogy, and also, his third book. Following on the heels of Neuromancer and Count Zero, Overdrive is by far the most lightweight of the trio, basing more in reflected glory from the other books, than attempting to stand on its own.

Set in the same world as the other two, some twenty years after Count Zero, it has lost the feeling of fast-paced change, as both technologically and culturally it feels almost stagnant, unchanging.

Borrowing heavilly on past character ...
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