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04 December 2011

Hypothesis of who or what lurks behind rogue avatars

So you finally made an account and your all revved-up about stepping into the world of SL?

Well, then you probably have had to face the tough choice about establishing a SL identity.

An avatar is a complex issue, just think about it for a sec. Will I be a guy or a gal? Do I want it to look like me or not? How will he, she or it act like? What life will I strive to obtain. These and other issues we face when bringing to life our digital golem. However, have you ever stopped and asked yourself exactly who or what lurks beneath the avatar to whom you are speaking?

Sure, most certainly the major part of avatars is made up of people like you and me - and in this I mean humanoid bipeds with a carbon based structure, vital bio rhythms, brain activity and so forth.

But haven't you ever gotten the feeling that SL could probably be housing other forms of life that employ avatars as a means of manifesting themselves? Let's get one thing straight before going on, the author of this article, myself, did not fall off the turnip truck or does not want to delve into an X-Files marathon. The question as to what or who really lurks beneath the appearances of your SL interlocutor is as serious as life itself.

Some background is called for. Talking with some friends on SL I have come to know that there are some avatars walking around the world without a profile- you heard me, no profile! Being a rational fellow I tried explaining the matter to myself in what I felt were logical terms. Perhaps this was just a product of a computer glitch or maybe some hacker is going around incognito and has managed to shield his profile with some encryption program. Well, these explanations don't seem to put together all the pieces of the puzzle. It is highly unlikely for the first instance, a technical glitch or bug, to occur. Creating an account is a standardized process that must include mandatory information for account activation. Come on, Linden Labs has got to bill somebody, don't you think?. As for the second occurrence, hackers, why would a hacker erase all of his profile data whilst not taking advantage of the other forms of sabotage that could be attempted, like having endless Linden dollars or limitless plots of land everywhere. Most likely a fellow like this would not go on unobserved and would face account suspension.

Instead what I am talking about are avatars that have no account info, and believe me I'm not making this up - what I call rogue avatars. Given that I could not explain the "glitch" with the rational I decided to give a whack at it with th irrational - what was there to lose?

One premise, "irrational" does not mean senseless hypothesizing, instead it mean taking into consideration explanations and hypotheses that are conventionally deemed an being "unscientific" or even downright "creation", but too often these are terms brandished by a nearsighted skepticism that traps itself within the boundaries of common-place rational and science. In this introductory article we will examine two possibilities: parapsychology and AI (artificial intelligence) - both of which are internationally recognized disciplines.

I'm certain that most of you have heard about voices from beyond, departed human beings that seek to communicate with the realm of the living. A well-accounted and serious study in parapsychology has shown that there may well be some kind of continuation after corporeal demise; from things that go bump in the night, to pets that stare nervously at a certain spot up to a strange sensation and so on; Nonetheless, this article does not wish to deal in depth with the history of parapsychology; there will be ample room for others to do so.

Anyways, experiments in this field have unveiled that a soul or a ghost, call it what you will, might reveal its presence through various means, one of these is EVP- Electronic Voice Phenomena. EVP is quite simple really. The method involves the setting up of an an EM (electromagnetic) insulated microphone in a cabin linked to an external recording unit that is activated and left to record the sounds of a certain area. In modern times, the recordings are then analyzed through specific programs for audio cleaning, Characteristics such as frequency, amplitude and wavelength isolation are delt with in order to discover traces of underlying voices and interaction. Another supposed manifestation of these entities is through the "orb phenomena". Orbs are blurs of puffy spot lights that appear in pictures taken with both analogical and digital cameras. Obviously these orbs are invisible to the naked eye and only appear after the picture has been snapped; and are not the result of shooting circumstances or camera defect. Some people also cite having seen these entities manifest themselves through other electronic devices such as radio and TV. Is it possible that entities have gone modern and updated their array of communications via computer- and to be more specific through SL ?

Second life is indeed a dynamic communications media - if you're reading this article it's because you stumbled into it on SL. An entity that would like to interact with this dimension would have nothing more to do than strike up an avatar and send this digital body i search of human contact, a body that is not a body with no need to actually utter a single syllable to communicate. Perhaps they don't create an account but can use other forms of energies to compose an avatar, after all a sound recording is nothing more than a vibrational transmission of mechanical energy that propogates through matter and leaves traces on either an oxidized surface of a tape or is converted into numerals and recorded on a digital device. Digital devices do nothing more than translate the sound wave into numbers and then reconverted into an analog wave in playback. Could it not be possible for an entity to do the same with a digital image made up of bit code? This might seem all too surreal but the principle is the same, just that here the data does not need reconversion and whatever energies involved take the form of an on-screen image made up of 0's and 1's. As for the energy involved, that is a different story, but objective accounts of paranormal manifestations recount events where entities have interacted with our physical plane in many other occasions, so what is there to stop them from doing so now?

The second hypothesis is a bit more sci-fi in nature and deals with the concept of artificial intelligence.

By commonly accepted definition, artificial intelligence is "the study and design of "intelligent agents", where an intelligent agent is a system that perceives its environment and takes actions which maximizes its chances of success. AI is famous in the movies such as Matrix and Terminator, as well as in literature, such as with Isac Asimov. In these cases we have macroscopic creations that are able to perceive their surroundings and take necessary action to maximize all chances of awaited outcomes. Human beings pretty much seem to work in the same way, funny isn't it? Could it be that what we have in SL is a manifestation of agents that make up a system through their digital surroundings? It is like the fear of nanotechnology running amuck, where small micron sized machines start to repair themselves and reproduce to enlarge the species and maximize success of survival- like man. Maybe these digital critters are much the same way, artificial life forms that live within processors or in a network that use avatars to explore their surroundings. This parallel with man is made even more interesting by the fact that quantum physics is starting to hypothesize that our shapely 3D world is nothing more than a flat 2D dimension that is elaborated by our brains and therefore perceived in a totally different manner. So, the real question might be: "what's behind your avatar in real life?"

I'd like to close with a few considerations even though I realize that only the surface of such arguments has been scratched here. Firstly, why do these rogue avatars not have or make a profile or have any account info attributed? To this I could reply that I do not know, maybe these entities manage to bypass the system, either consciously in an effort for survival or unknowingly since their digital manifestation may just pop-up on the screen. Secondly, why did the entities wait for SL to make themselves heard? And here I'll simply say that they didn't as further exploration into the dimension that surrounds us can prove. Lastly, are these hypotheses credible or just fruit of a rampant imagination? Well folks, these as mentioned earlier are simply hypotheses that were stimulated by strange encounters that some friends of mine had in SL, these are an attempt to take a different look at what is in the works of this virtual universe. Most importantly, it is another way to look at what lurks behind the curtain of real life- perhaps every bit as virtual as its digital counterpart.


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