Day two of the Second Life Community Conference went smoothly. Attendees arrived, were issued their badges and SLCC teeshirts, and proceeded to Grand Ballroom for the morning’s keynote speaker, the legendary technology visionary Ray Kurzweil.
However, Kurzweil wasn’t there. At least not in person. He was in Second Life, and delivering his talk via streaming media to the audience assembled in the St. Francis Hotel, who watched his avatar speaking on two large projections screens. He spoke of the exponential growth of technology leading to changes in society that are much faster than the linear growth frequently forecast by economic modelers and spoke about the six paradigms of the grown of technology The First Paradigm began with the 1890 census, the first to be conducted with the then startling new tecnology of punch cards. Kurzweil projects that the current Fifth Paradigm, based on Moore’s Law projecting the growth in power of computers, will end around 2020 and will be supplanted by the Sixth Paradigm, molecular computing.
Kurzweil addressed far more than can be covered here. For more information, go to his website www.KurzWeilaAI.net.
One recurring theme in several workshops I attended was privacy and whether or not people’s Second Life avatar names and real life identities should be freely linked both in Second Life and on social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Most people at the workshops appeared to be in favor of this, but some people try to keep them separate, for example entrepreneurs trying to maintain a distance between their business and personal identities. There were serious concerns about the privacy we are giving up in so many aspects of our lives, and that there has not been sufficient serious public discussion about how much is appropriate and acceptable.
Another theme was the use of Second Life in education, such as teaching the Native American Comanche language. Another fascinating application was Texas State Technical College, which has AA degree programs in which all coursework can be taken in Second Life. The college also has a YouTube channel.
Jeff Barr of Amazon Web Services gave a fascinating talk – ok, fascinating to technical people – about using the Linden scripting language LSL together with PHP to collect data about objects in Second Life.
Wagner James Au, author of the authoritative Second Life blog New World Notes was at SLCC with his new book, The Making of Second Life. I haven’t read it yet but it looks interesting. His long involvement in Second Life gives him a historical perspective that few others possess.
The biggest problem at SLCC on day two was that there were so many interesting workshops, more than than any one person could attend. There are two more days of events – SLCC 2009 continues through Sunday August 16, 2009.