April 9, 2020
XPRIZE, the global leader in incentivized prize competitions, in partnership with ANA, Japan’s 5-star airline, announce Avatars Inc, a unique online anthology that blends original science fiction stories with a writing competition to imagine novel use-cases of telepresence technology in the future.
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Avatars Inc (www.avatars.inc) is a free online sci-fi anthology presented as a collection of avatar ‘memories’ spanning the 21st century, including new stories by James SA Corey, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Tade Thompson, JY Yang, Ken Liu, Charles Yu, and more. (Illustration by Michelle Thompson, courtesy of XPRIZE.)
The anthology, edited by Ann VanderMeer, includes 24 original pieces by high-profile authors including James SA Corey, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Tade Thompson, Pat Cadigan, JY Yang, Ken Liu, Charles Yu, Paul McAuley, K Chess, Johanna Sinisalo, and Aliette de Bodard.
The premise for the anthology is as follows:
Established in 2038, Avatars Inc is the world’s leading producer of robotic avatar systems that can transport a human’s senses, actions, and presence to a remote location in real time. For the next few decades, they developed hundreds of avatar models and enabled millions of operator-hours. In 2080, a campaign was underway to physically retrieve, preserve and archive the memories from their most valuable units. We have been searching the world, and even deep into the solar system, to acquire the chips that contain avatar memories spanning the 21st century. These are those memories.
The short story contest is open through May 8, 2020 and is open to anyone over the age of 18 who submits an original story between 2,500 – 3,500 words, bringing to life a ‘missing’ avatar memory. Members of XPRIZE’s Science Fiction Advisory Council will vote on the finalist pieces to select the grand prize winner, who will then receive a prize package including a 3.2GHz 8-core Intel Xeon W Processor iMac Pro, a GoPro Hero7 Camera, Sony noise cancelling headphones, a 32GB Kindle Paperwhite, a JoneR Universal Translator, and more.
The fictional Avatars Inc was inspired by the real-life $10 million ANA Avatar XPRIZE, a four-year global competition focused on the development of an avatar system that can transport a human’s senses, actions, and presence to a remote location in real time. The competition was launched in March 2018 at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin.
“The world of Avatars Inc was made possible by the incredible partnership between XPRIZE and ANA and is intended to elevate the overall conversation about avatars among the general public, making the topic of avatars accessible, relevant and exciting, while creating demand and interest in the technologies that will result from the ANA Avatar XPRIZE,” said David Locke, Prize Lead of the ANA Avatar XPRIZE.
As of January 2020, a total of 77 teams from 19 countries qualified to compete. In March 2022, up to 20 teams will compete in the finals, which will include performance tests based on specific tasks that showcase the application of avatar technologies across several use-case scenarios. The first-place winner will receive $5 million.
To explore the world of Avatars Inc, and to submit your short story, visit http://www.avatars.inc.
XPRIZE, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is the global leader in designing and implementing innovative competition models to solve the world’s grandest challenges. Active competitions include the $20 Million NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, the $10 Million Rainforest XPRIZE, the $10 Million ANA Avatar XPRIZE and the $5 Million IBM Watson AI XPRIZE. For more information, visit xprize.org.