News: Hollywood Taps into Tech Paranoia Around Augmented Reality in 'Auggie'

Hollywood Taps into Tech Paranoia Around Augmented Reality in 'Auggie'

Ever since Skynet took over the world in the Terminator film franchise, a large segment of the world's population has feared artificial intelligence.

One new film wants to inspire the same fear over augmented reality.

In a trailer released on Wednesday, the film Auggie depicts a man, played by Richard Kind (aka "that guy" #41), who falls in love with a female augmented reality companion procedurally generated by a pair of smartglasses called Auggie. But this isn't just a visual companion, the smartglasses can also read the user's brain signals to fulfill their subconscious desires. Ok, but what about his real life wife?

Image by Samuel Goldwyn Films/YouTube

Just judging by the trailer, the movie is a cross between the Joaquin Phoenix vehicle Her — where the main character fell in love with an operating system voiced by Scarlett Johannson — and Unfaithful, the thriller about infidelity starring Diane Lane.

As is the case for some films that prey on the fears around new technology, the storyline explores several questions related to augmented reality specifically, and technology in general. What is "reality" when people and objects in augmented reality are indistinguishable from the real thing? What happens when we become too reliant on technology? Is an intimate relationship with a digital personality considered cheating? The consequences are dire in each case, it seems.

Image by Samuel Goldwyn Films/YouTube

However, there are a couple of real-world technologies that ground the film's high-tech concept somewhat in reality. For example, Magic Leap is preparing to release MICA, an AI assistant projected into the real world via the Magic Leap One. Elsewhere Facebook, Elon Musk's Neuralink, and the startup Neurable are all among the companies leading research into brain-related interfaces.

Of course, Auggie (not to be confused with the annual awards given out to AR companies at the Augmented World Expo) isn't the first film to tackle the potential pitfalls of augmented reality. The Netflix movie Anon also explored the thin line between the real world and the augmented reality world as well as the implications of the technology on our privacy. Another Netflix original, Altered Carbon, showed an extreme vision of how AR might consume our attention in the future. Augmented reality has also reared its head several times within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The most recent entry, Spiderman: Far From Home, really explored how augmented reality and holograms could be dangerous in the wrong hands.

And, of course, the Black Mirror anthology of technology-versus-morality tales has also touched on AR, with life imitating art at least three times in the series.

Considering the upward trajectory of AR and the continuous breakthroughs in AR research, we're sure to see more ruminations on the "beware AR" theme over the next few years.

Cover image via Samuel Goldwyn Films/YouTube

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