The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon thinks all white people are awkward when they try to high-five one another. But when a hologram and a real-life person attempt to engage in the intimate celebratory connection, it’s even worse.
During the weekend, a 3D image of Julian Assange, the whistleblower known best for exposing diplomatic documents on his site Wikileaks, was beamed overseas to Massachusetts territory, so he could talk about the state of the Internet with filmmaker and moderator Eugene Jalecki, during the annual “Nantucket Project” summit, a “New England twist on the TED talks” that takes place on the small island off the Bay State’s coast.
Prior to the agonizingly uncoordinated failed high-five attempt that ended the interview, something that captured both Fallon and the Internet’s attention, the high-definition version of Assange, who has been in political asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012, talked openly about Google, his new book, and the setbacks of being on lockdown, as he sat on a stool in front of the crowd.
“I’m very pissed off about the interference of my family relationships, and so on, and the hypocrisy and duplicity of human rights standards,” Assange said during the interview, which put him in the ranks of other celebrities who have appeared in public via 3D hologram, including the late-rapper Tupac Shakur. “Being really, really pissed off is something that you can use as a fuel, you can use that anger as a fuel, and that can keep you going.”
Jalecki, who led the discussion with Assange as part of the weekend-long excursion, wasn’t immediately available to comment on what it was like to talk to someone who looked real, but was merely a digital replica. But he wrote about what he anticipated the experience would be like prior to the on-stage interview, in a piece for The Guardian, likening the technological advances that allowed for Assange’s real-time appearance to something straight out of a Star Wars movie.
In a wink at life imitating art, the Assange interview will be preceded by a short recreation of the opening sequence of Star Wars. It’s the same old story of rebels against an empire, but in this case, Assange and kindred spirits such as Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, and Aaron Swartz see themselves as a real life band of rebels, loosely arrayed against an unholy global alliance of government and economic interests.
Assange’s appearance and lack of coordination at the Nantucket Project’s event was made possible by Hologram USA, and was dispatched from inside the Ecuadorian Embassy.
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