Grey Goo melting online world Second Life

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>>A “griefer” — person who disrupts video-games — is attacking the online world Second Life with self-replicating “grey goo” that is melting down the Second Life servers. “Grey goo” is shorthand for an apocalyptic nano-gone-wrong scenario wherein nanoassemblers replicate so profligately that they reduce the world to slurry.<<

This story is quite awesome. First of all, the Grey Goo, which eats the world, reminds me of The Nothing in Michael Ende’s book The Neverending Story. Non-physical/virtual world being destroyed by lack of believe/imagination/abstraction. Although I have to admit I don’t know if you can fight the Grey Goo attack by coding nice stuff.

Anyway, moving on, the second aspect I found interesting is policing and crime in Second Life.

As Second Life is sort of a whole-world simulation, of course there are conflicts. But with the actual money transactions, SL is bound to create some extra trouble and a lot of nasty legal work at some point. So what kind of conflict resolution can there be? What kind of government does Second Life have? Please let me know if I’m missing out on something: Are there elections? Not as far as I know, so it’s not a democracy. Is there a ruler? That’d probably the coders or the terms of service. But who enforces them, who even finds out about breaches of the rules? Are there spies, tip-offs, a complaint system? Maybe the in-game Linden liason guys?

I once had a brief email conversation with one of the Linden Labs people. (Who was very nice, by the way.) Asked about the kind of policing, she pointed out:

“Our goal is to give our Residents the tools they need to handle abuse themselves. At a growth rate of 20% per month, there’s no way we can scale in-world policing.”

Well, ok, that was back in February 2006, and I’m sure a lot has changed since. But the Grey Goo story may bring some spice into the discussion about conflict resolution. Take this comment by SL user nhile for example, who is asking for some kind of policing, either by SL or by its inhabitants.

I’m fed up with this “government” conspiracy theory spoken by people who are too scared to take action. LL can’t micro-manage every… single… account… when they have, as you said, a “million member march.” I, for one, work as a security manager at a club, and it’s a job that is very important to cover. Places that have security force these malicious members to TRY to be discrete about their activity. Alas, it fails. (…) We gotta step up our effort and show our resolve against these griefer attacks. Stop putting up shop and walking away from it; start keeping an eye on things. As people have said, it is entirely possible to stop these attacks altogether on a RESIDENT level. There will be no need for verification-only accounts. Everyone can be happy with their free accounts.

Were there ever any gang activities? Professional break-ins, robberies, major cases of organized fraud? Does the code allow for massive abuse, or maybe for some levels and ways of abuse, but not others? Can there be armed neighborhood watches, or Guardian Angel-style groups of people just watching out?

The more people are in Second Life (or any similar virtual world, for that matter), the more potential conflicts there will be. So how does the people react? (via)

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