Tigers like to hide.
And, unfortunately for us, they are really quite good at it.
Tigers can magically blend in with their surroundings, giving us only glimpses of their true form.
But there’s much more to fear from tigers than simply being eaten alive.
It has to do with how we see them while they’re hiding in the grass.
Throughout history, we have tried to build impossible things.
Insanely impossible things.
Things that require innovation, complex combinations of technologies, and a lot of coordination and work.
And despite great difficulty, we’ve managed to successfully build many impossible things.
But the main reason behind our success at building the impossible may surprise you.
I found that captioned photo while Googling for images of Finland.
But I don’t think we’re allowed to tease Finland anymore.
Not since Newsweek recently ranked them #1 on their list of Best Countries in the World.
I’ll be giving a keynote at a very interesting conference in Finland in October. Here are some details.
“A lot of people don’t realize what’s really going on.
They view life as a bunch of unconnected incidents and things.
They don’t realize there’s this, like, Lattice of Coincidence that lays on top of everything.”
That’s a quote from the movie Repo Man.
And while it may be the ramblings of a character who did way too much acid in the 60’s, I think it has a deeper meaning in Virtual Worlds.
We all want to look marvelous.
And in virtual worlds, we want our avatars to look marvelous.
In both form and motion, we want them to possess beauty and grace. We want people to gasp at their originality and for virtual heads to turn when we walk into a virtual room.
And we want them to look as lifelike as possible.
But there’s a catch. As our avatars march forward into a bright future of ever-increasing realism, we’re going to face a major obstacle.
Most people deeply involved in Virtual Worlds, from researchers to developers to enthusiastic users, have read Neal Stephenson’s novel “Snow Crash.”
In it, Stephenson coins the term “Metaverse.” He describes it as a perceptually immersive successor to the Internet, populated by avatars interacting with each other in a collaboratively created virtual space.
If you’ve read it, you probably remember the Metaverse with its cool motorcycles, thrilling swordfights between avatars in The Black Sun, and the endless glittering stretch of The Street.
Seductive stuff, yes?
But I bet most of you don’t remember something mentioned in the novel. And I can sum it up in a simple question:
Artificial Intelligence is sexy.
At least, that’s what we’re constantly being told.
Technologists wax poetic about how computers can increasingly replicate our ability to think and reason. Folks like Eric Schmidt gleefully proclaim that people really want Google to “tell them what to do next.”
Even Clay Shirky believes that people re-Tweeting on a global scale somehow means the Internet itself is beginning to engage in human-like problem solving.
Someone recently asked me “Do you think the Internet itself will someday become intelligent and self aware? Like a big brain?”
I replied “No. Never. But something much better could happen.”
I had an outstanding time at the recent Second Life Community Convention here in Boston. It was great to meet new folks, reconnect with old friends, and I had a blast giving my keynote presentation. And a big thank you to everyone who showed up bright and early at 8am on Sunday to listen to me.
Time to start a blog.
I’ll be posting my thoughts on strategies for pioneers in virtual worlds, online communities, education, and more.
I hope you find it interesting and entertaining.
– John “Pathfinder” Lester