The Singularity of Kumiko - an initial explanation
|real time projected light with accurate shadow puppet|
|Projected light and shadows in darkness|
What is lethal? Well there is a rarely used feature in Second Life which allows the avatar to die. I have been using this feature for a few years now as I believe, and hope, that it develops a deeper sense of immersion within my narratives as it creates a bit of anxiety. Users of Second Life greatly associate with their avatars, there exists very deep emotional connections and reactions associated with what happens to their avatar. If, for example, some stranger stands very close to you, nose to nose, many feel that sense of personal space being invaded and step back. If someone barges past you, pushing you aside in a shop or somewhere, many can get angry at this treatment. It is not uncommon for people to fall in love, with other minds, in virtual worlds. It is a giant psychology experiment really, with few people paying attention to the results. With this in mind, the death or danger to ones avatar can effectively be used to further immersion.
The final thing I wish to mention before next weeks post (or possibly in two weeks as I need to post about the Russian Avant Garde exhibit running at a museum in Moscow I am in that is just opening) is the concept behind the Singularity also known as the technological singularity. This is the idea that at some point in the future, computer artificial intelligence will surpass that possessed by the human race. The consensus seems to be that this will happen around 2045 or so. The idea is that humans would create a computer mind that grows or evolves exponentially. The initial AI would develop means to enhance itself and so would then be constantly improving on its original design, possibly exponentially. So Imogen and the pigeons and the Singularity of Kumiko both are stories told during that time period. With Kumiko life is essentially about playing. Remarkable inventions are written about each day in their media but soon forgotten as newer and more impressive ones appear. The memory encryption being one such remarkable invention that was just one of many created by the Singularity machine.
The human race becomes children of this machine, who in itself doesn't fully comprehend the fickle nature of its creators. It begins by developing inventions for humanity and its decisions initially reflect that it is still close to the original product programmed for humanity, yet with each new iteration of itself that it creates, it becomes more and more distanced from the wants and desires of people. In the end, as we see in the desolate landscape for Imogen and the pigeons, it determines that the presence of the human race is counter productive to all other life forms on earth.