SecondLife economy won’t collapse after all (and why I care)

My interest in SecondLife (SL) is for the moment purely as an observer. I have had an account for nearly one year, but hardly log into it. I have yet to find an interest to participate in it, let alone time, so I find it much more exciting to observe from the outside. I particularly find it exciting that a new society is being created, with is own rules, trends, just like I always imagined the cyberworld would be.
But for the moment, it seems all there is to SL is its economy, and it looks like it’s the reason for its success. I find it sad that even this world is driven by money, but if it’s the only way to bring metaverse awareness to the people, then let it be.

But a couple of months ago, an earthquake hit SL:

A program called Copybot was introduced; it allows any SL object to be copied regardless of its copy rights. A creator could decide that an object he’s creating is unique and sell it much more because of its uniqueness, just like real world objects. But the Copybot program can copy the physical appearance of any object displayed on a resident’s computer. This lack of scarcity would result in SL economy to collapse.
The Guardian runs a story about it :

“Fortunately, not all aspects of an object can be duplicated. To create complex items – such as a virtual car that can be driven – you use a special programming language to code their realistic behaviour. CopyBot cannot duplicate these programs because they are never passed to the user, but run on the Linden Lab’s computers.

As for the elements that you can copy, such as shape and texture, Rosedale [Note: SL creator] explains: “What we’re going to do is add a lot of attribution. You’ll be able to easily see when an object or texture was first created,” – and hence if something is a later copy. This should be ready “within a couple of months”.

Moreover, “copies of virtual objects in Second Life will be linked to the copier, and that link will be “immutable”. This is perhaps the biggest difference between Second Life and real life. In the real world, even the most efficient totalitarian regime has only an imperfect knowledge of its population’s activities. But the world of Second Life exists entirely within its computers. Linden Lab knows everything about everyone in its “world” – including who created copies. This makes policing abuse far easier in Second Life than in real life.”

“Virtual retailers can help to address this problem, Rosedale suggests, through the establishment of trade groups committed to certain standards – such as never selling copies. This idea of self-governance is an important thread in Rosedale’s thinking about Second Life, particularly its future. “The overriding principle is that it should run itself,” he points out.”

“It was never my fantasy to be the Dungeon Master of Second Life,” Rosedale insists – but needs to come from within the virtual world, as an evolution of the society there. (…) And in exploring and working through these issues, maybe Rosedale’s great Second Life experiment will have something to teach us in First Life, too.

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1 Comment

  1. Some people got popular because they were alarmist about the whole thing. There were many people explaining that this would not be a problem – and that it wasn’t a problem – but why listen to us?

    More fun to be worried about something, I suppose.

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