Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Regional Elitism & Web 2.0 - A Video Response

A video response to the thread that Eric Rice started on regional elitism.
(Scobleizer's rejoinder to Eric can be seen here. Other parts of the discussion are scattered about the web)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

An Autonomous Metaverse - in Text

The video in the previous post seems to have disappeared so I will try to recap what I discussed in the previous post.

First there is the general lay of the land in law and virtual worlds. Since the people behind the avatars live in a physical space those people will fall under the jurisdiction where they live. What is legal or illegal in their country or city or etc. will likely apply to them in the virtual world.

The place where this begins to get interesting is really in the Virtual World provider space. While the provider is bound by the laws of where they and their machines reside there still is a question of how does the provider interact with the laws that apply to those that use their worlds. Although this has been dealt with to some extent by the Internet, there are many areas that are different as there are actions within a virtual world that do not exist on a relatively static web page. One would hope that providers will spend some time looking at the international legal spectrum and come up with a plan of how to handle these rather than just reacting to the cases as they are presented, but predicting how those laws will apply or appear even is not an easy task. (How many thousands of conflicting laws are there?)

So that is the obvious case - laws of the physical worlds will come to apply in the virtual worlds. But...what if the virtual world could be sprung free from the legal jurisdiction of the existing legal systems. What would you view as a "legitimate form of government" in that world? What kind of laws would develop?

Now at first glance it seems like that is a pointless question - how unlikely is an autonomous world. Well I don't know how likely, but to me it doesn't seem impossible. In fact, using existing technologies and legalistic oddities I could see how such a virtual world - or grid - could be created. Let us call this virtual world the autonomous metaverse. There are three components that I think are necessary:

1) Places for the servers
2) Anonymous network access
3) A way to get money in and out of the system and to the physical person

For the servers, having watched the legal dances of services such as bittorrent there are legal jurisdictions that are fairly hands-off on what is served up on the network from their locale. This would be the place to start for hosting the autonomous metaverse.

For the networks, on the video I was postulating that something along the Freedom network that Zero Knowledge Systems had created would work. But the Freedom network has since disappeared. Since then I have found out about the Tor network which provides anonymous communication on the network (and seems to have built upon the work that was done on the Freedom Network. Connectivity to the autonomous metaverse would be through Tor or networks like this - and be restricted to access through such trusted channels.

The money at first seemed to be a hard one, until I started thinking about what in the US we call "offshore banking". Either offshore banking or other anonymous banking methods could allow money to go in and out of the autonomous metaverse and be placed in some account that the physical person could access. The legality of this may be questionable for the person receiving the money, although I suspect there are legal means that could be used as well.

Using these three components the autonomous metaverse could work outside of other legal jurisdictions.

It would be interesting to see how law would develop, what laws would develop, how they would be enforced, and what would happen if one could cross from the autonomous metaverse to the standard worlds.

Monday, October 1, 2007

An Autonomous Metaverse

I have been involved in a discussion over on Virtual Worlds Connect about how law applies to cyberspace. Some side discussions got me thinking about how one might go about creating a virtual world that could have an independent legal system. I thought I'd capture the general ideas in a video.

After the introduction to the more practical aspects of law and the metaverse, the alternative metaverse idea begins at about 2:20 on the time-line.

The video associated with this post seems to have disappeared. For the ideas contained in the video please see the post "An Autonomous Metaverse - in Text"