Sun. Sep 25th, 2022
Luka Doncic has taken the league by storm over his four years in the NBA. The Dallas Mavericks superstar is an offensive cheat code, capable of erupting for an uber-efficient 40 points and 15 assists on any given night.

Having one Doncic-level would be a dream for any team. That’s why the Slovenian was named the top player under 25 that NBA execs would build around in a recent HoopsHype poll. In an instant, he can shift a team’s fortunes, extend postseason runs, and thrill fans. But what if a team could have two Lukas?

It sounds like fantasy. Doncic is a once-in-a-lifetime player. He’s a generational talent 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” designed to connect with fans via social media. Luka posted a futuristic-looking video of his side project, complete with lasers capturing an ultra-realistic Doncic clone. Shortly after, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban weighed in on his star’s side project.

“Really really amazing,” Cuban tweeted, tagging Doncic’s metahuman’s Twitter handle.

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

Doncic’s Metahuman Will Live on Social Media

Doncic’s side project was spearheaded by the Mavs star and 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 borderline Terminator situation, you’re not wrong.

But the real reason for the metahuman appears to be to leverage Doncic’s social media presence, squeezing the most out of the star’s massive following.

“The virtual version of Luka, created with Unreal Engine 5 technology, will be able to interact, exercise, play and converse with fans via TikTok, which will be his home. Epic says Luk.AI will become smarter and grow by interacting with the TikTok community. Fans will influence his skills, interests and hobbies, in a similar way that social interaction stimulates and shapes our own minds,” wrote Maya Jones of ESPN on September 22.

Think of it as a next-level video game that isn’t controlled by a console, but simply exists. But what exactly is the point of Doncic’s metahuman? Per the superstar, the metahuman’s goal is entirely benign.

Doncic’s Metahuman Is Here to ‘Do More Good’

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

“Luk.AI is going to help me do more good,” Doncic said. “He’ll be playing an important role with my foundation — which is all about the positive role of play for kids — and he’ll be partnering with Mark Cuban’s AI boot camps to help teach kids about AI technology. Technology education is so important.”

Granted, that’s how each of those science fiction horror movies begins: a peaceful bot turned rotten by a flawed system or the realization that they are far more powerful than humans. But hey, perhaps by teaching kids how to use AI responsibly will keep Doncic’s metahuman from deviating from his goodwill-bearing mission.

It’s fair to wonder what the next step in metahuman-athlete partnerships is. Will James Harden’s metahuman force his way out of TikTok for the greener pastures of Instagram? Maybe Kevin Durant’s metahuman helps build up a scrappy tech startup, only to demand a trade to the more robust Microsoft? Will Draymond Green’s metahuman punch LeBron James’ metahuman in the groin? Do metahumans even have groins?

The answer remains to be seen.

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