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So there’s a company now developing prototypes of very simple artificial intelligences who can do a kind of limited range of things in Second Life – avatars who can show you the way to something, respond to keywords, notice you, greet you, and things like that. (Thanks for mentioning this, Hamlet Au.)

Am I the only one who thinks this is creepy and disturbing?

I mean of course, on one level this is no different from an old text adventure game. The video on the company’s home page kind of drives that home. I keep feeling like someone should be saying “go east” or “taunt goblins”.

On another level, this is trying to blur the line between people and computers, which is *not* a good idea. I don’t mean to say that I think the computers are becoming people, because I’m using the term “artificial intelligence” generously. These fairverse bots aren’t any more advanced than the average demon emperor in a video game (they can find their way around, notice you, and give canned responses to specific things).

They didn’t even wait to rez before they started chatspamming me! …and they said all of that within
only a second or two. In their defense, they *are* still testing.

The problem is that I thought Second Life avatars were supposed to be reserved for use by actual people, and that while things like modelbots and (ugh) campbots and force-my-group-on-youbots and things haven’t been cracked down on, that some day they would be banned by the TOS when someone noticed they were getting to be too much of a nuisance. And maybe that’s true. Maybe Linden Lab will say “Hey, fairybot people! Just because you’re French doesn’t mean you can violate the laws of human decency. I don’t care how much butter you put in your cooking, those bots aren’t real people and they aren’t allowed!”

But then, maybe they won’t. I have a bad feeling these fairybot people may already have talked to Linden Lab, and that Linden Lab said “Hey, neat! Lots of corporations will love these!”

If people keep doing this, it’s going to become more and more work to figure out who’s a person and who’s somebody’s zombie robot goon, especially if somebody comes up with a really *brainy* artificial intelligence system that mimics a person more convincingly. Don’t we already have enough avenues for being spammed in Second Life? Do we really need this kind of stress? How about some rules, like a special class of avatars for bots that’s clearly labelled and that can be muted as a group? Second class citizens? You bet! They can complain when they become sentient, if they want to.

^^^\ Kate /^^^

PS – Why do they have regular people in Fairyverse? Don’t they know that fairies have *wings*? What kind of fairyverse is filled with Star Search model wannabes in company dresses?