Oct 2, 2018

The rising influence of 3D avatars

Screenshots of Kia's Bitmoji in Snapchat

Social media avatars are reaching new dimensions — three dimensions, to be exact.

Driving the news: 3D avatars of all sorts are appearing, from Apple and Snapchat’s animated cartoons to apps like Gabsee and the stealthy Morphin app, which lets users re-create famous GIFs with a computer-generated imagery (CGI) version of themselves.

  • And of course, virtual reality companies, including giants like Facebook, have long been refining their 3D avatars to let users socialize online.

Why it matters: Advanced technologies, like CGI, are making it possible for people to create more lifelike online identities.

  • At the same time, CGI tech is also shaking up popular culture by giving rise to fictional models like Shudu and Lil Miquela, who are even nabbing real fashion gigs while raising questions about ethics and cultural appropriation.

Go deeper: The twisted world of CGI social media influencers

Go deeper

America's dwindling executions

The Trump administration wants to reboot federal executions, pointing to a 16-year lapse, but Pew Research reports the government has only executed three people since 1963.

The big picture: Nearly all executions in the U.S. are done by states. Even those have been steadily dropping for two decades, per the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) — marking a downward trend for all executions in the country.

Top NSC official may be moved after "Anonymous" rumor fallout

President Trump at the Daytona 500. (Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Top Trump administration officials are in discussions to reassign deputy national security adviser Victoria Coates to the Department of Energy from the National Security Council, per two sources familiar with the planning.

Why it matters: Coates' working relationship with National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, who elevated her to the deputy role only months ago, has strained amid an effort by some people inside the administration to tag her as "Anonymous" — a charge she has vehemently denied to colleagues.

Jeff Bezos commits $10 billion for climate change research

Bezos at Amazon Smbhav in New Delhi on Jan. 15. Photo: Sajjad Hussain/AFP via Getty Images

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced the launch of his "Earth Fund" on Monday via Instagram to fund climate change research and awareness.

What he's saying: Bezos says he's initially committing $10 billion to fund "scientists, activists, and NGOS" that are working on environmental preservation and protection efforts.