There is now a 'Human Uber' which lets you attend events using someone else's body
There are some occasions in life when having a social life really feels like a drag. Especially when you're a major introvert like me, you often want to avoid going out on a Saturday night, or forgo the house party you've been invited to, in favour of curling up in your nice warm bed and having a hot drink and junk food instead. Blissfull. However, then you'll have a major case of FOMO to deal with - the fear of missing out which can ruin your weekend as well.
If only there was a way to enjoy the best of both worlds; to be able to attend an event without actually having to be there. A laudable goal, but how would one go about accomplishing this? You could hire a body double perhaps, or maybe clone yourself and send the duplicate in your stead. But researchers from Japan have now come up with an ingenious invention that they believe can solve the problem, and it sounds like something that could have come from a rejected pitch of an episode of Black Mirror
It's been described as a 'Human Uber' platform, and it's every bit as bizarre as that moniker suggests. Basically, imagine being able to hire one member of Daft Punk, who wears a motorbike helmet with an iPad stuck on the front. On the screen you'll be able to stream your facecam, essentially giving you a walking Facecam platform surrogate. That, in essence, is the Chameleon Mask -designed by Japanese researcher Jun Rekimoto. It's weird, it's slightly creepy, but it's also a little bit genius.
Describing how to use to the product, Rekimoto wrote on the Chameleon Mask's web page that: "A surrogate user wears a mask-shaped display that shows a remote user’s live face, and a voice channel transmits a remote user’s voice. A surrogate user mimics a remote user by following the remote user’s directions. This design is based on our hypothesis assuming physical and social telepresence can be embodied by such a surrogate human who imitates the remote user. It also eliminates many difficulties of teleoperated robots wandering in the environment."
On social media, reactions to the invention have been mixed, to say the least. One Twitter user wrote: "Ok no. That's what robots are for. To have someone's job be walking around pretending to be another person is pretty dehumanizing. Why do this? [sic]." Another added: "Meatspace is becoming a reality. Instead of using a computer to interact with the cyber world we now have surrogate bodies to internet with the physical world. The future is ever more dystopian. [sic]"
So what do you think? Is this a cool idea, or a massive waste of time? On the one hand, it could be quite a nifty device for disabled people with mobility issues, who don't get the chance to leave their house much. On the other hand, it does seem like something that could be abused. Imagine being broken up with via surrogate? That would suck.