Sunday, October 2, 2022

Mavericks boss Mark Cuban sounds at Luka Doncic’s latest project

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Luka Doncic has taken the league by storm in his four years in the NBA. The Dallas Mavericks Superstar is an offensive cheat code that can provide an overpowered 40 points and 15 assists each night.

Having a Doncic level would be a dream for any team. That’s why the Slovenian was named the best under-25 player that NBA executives would build around in a recent HoopsHype poll. In the blink of an eye, he can change the fortunes of a team, extend the postseason, and excite fans. But what if a team had two Luke?

It sounds like fantasy. Doncic is a one-time player. He is a generational talent who is often compared to Larry Bird. But as it turns out, we might be closer to living in the “Luka-Verse” than we think.

On September 21, Doncic revealed Luk.AI, a “metahuman” engineered to connect with fans through social media. Luka posted a futuristic looking video of his side project, complete with lasers shooting an ultra-realistic Doncic clone. Shortly thereafter, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban got involved in his star’s side project.

“Really, really amazing” Cuban tweetedtagged the Twitter handle of Doncic’s metahuman.

With this project, Doncic becomes the first athlete with a metahuman. But Mavs fans shouldn’t expect Luk.AI to go head-to-head with its human counterpart any time soon.

Doncic’s side project was led by the Mavs star and the developers at Epic AI. The goal? Create a virtual version of Doncic “capable of emotional, physical, and technological growth.” If it sounds like something out of a James Cameron movie or a Terminator borderline, you’re not wrong.

But the real reason for the metahuman appears to be to capitalize on Doncic’s social media presence and make the most of the star’s massive fan base.

“The virtual version of Luka, created with Unreal Engine 5 technology, will be able to interact, train, play and chat with fans via TikTok, which will be his home. According to Epic, Luk.AI is getting smarter and growing by interacting with the TikTok community. Fans will influence his skills, interests and hobbies in much the same way that social interaction stimulates and shapes our own minds,” ESPN’s Maya Jones wrote on Sept. 22.

Think of it as a next-level video game, not controlled by a console, just simple exists. But what exactly is the point of Doncic’s metahuman? According to the Superstar, the metahuman’s target is completely harmless.

While it looks like a Terminator-like situation, Doncic swears the metahuman is here for purely peaceful reasons.

“Luk.AI will help me to do more good,” said Doncic. “He will play an important role in my foundation – which is all about the positive role of play for children – and he will work with Mark Cuban’s AI boot camps to help teach children AI technology. Technology education is so important.”

Granted, that’s how every one of those sci-fi horror movies begins: a peaceful bot rotted by a flawed system, or the realization that they’re far more powerful than humans. But hey, maybe teaching kids how to use AI responsibly will keep Doncic’s metahuman from straying from his benevolent mission.

One may wonder what is the next step in partnerships between metahumans and athletes. Will James Harden’s metahuman force his way out of TikTok to onto the greener pastures of Instagram? Perhaps Kevin Durant’s metahuman is helping build a seedy tech startup only to demand a trade with the more robust Microsoft? Will Draymond Green’s Metahuman Groin-smash LeBron James’ Metahuman? Do metahumans even have ledges?

The answer remains to be seen.

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