I noted once that the most interesting potential for virtual/mixed reality wasn’t to put yourself in a virtual office or the ocean floor; it was that you could experience entirely different worlds with different physics, where time flows differently, where acoustics mutate as sound waves fly through the air. In VR, you could move through scales of experience, from nanometers to miles, as easily as you move a few feet through space in the real world.
I feel a similar sense of loss of underexploration about large generative models for images and text. We can use these models to render anything at all, tell any story at all, invent any language, create any soundscape … and we use these dream machines mostly to render simulacra of reality with the details swapped around.
Endowed with the magic to immerse ourselves in worlds of our own making and languages of our own creation, we are so eager to rebuild worlds that already constrain us, speaking languages just as familiar as our own. We are given the power to imagine anything, and we imagine the here and now. Why?
All around us, there are other worlds blooming, if we only looked a bit closer.
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