Second Life will dwarf the web in ten years
So says Linden Lab CEO
Within ten years, virtual worlds will be bigger than the Web itself. So says Philip Rosedale, the man who invented Second Life.
Speaking at the Stanford Summit, an annual tech industry conference, the Linden Lab CEO predicted that a completely-open virtual world architecture – much like the one he’s touting for Second Life - would result in an online alternate universe several times larger than today’s internet. ”In ten years, virtual access will be more prevalent than web access,” he said, evangelizing alongside several other virtual world mavens, including the godfather of alternate reality, Berkeley scholar-in-residence Jaron Lanier.
Considering the massive amounts of computing power required by these 3D worlds, Rosedale’s future virtual landscape would sit atop a hardware infrastructure that makes Google’s network of servers look piddling. “Google now has about 100 thousand machines,” he said. “In ten years, virtual worlds will have hundreds of millions.”
But that was hardly the boldest prediction of the morning. Craig Sherman, CEO of Gaia Online, said that within “two or three years,” an alternative online universe like Second Life would provide real-time 3D graphics rivaling the digital effects in today’s Hollywood blockbusters. “You’ll see the kinda stuff that Transformers is doing today,” he said.
Meanwhile, IBM vice president Irving Wladawsky-Berger and Sun Microsystem’s in-house virtual world guru, chief gaming officer Chris Melissinos, lauded Second Life as an important tool not only for consumers but for big business, as Sun and IBM have said for for months now. Then he pointed out that his home is equipped with 42 gaming consoles.
[Wow, Wladawsky-Berger, Mellissinos and Rosedale in one room. I feel less productive just reading about the event - Ed]
As you might expect, Lanier is no less bullish about the future of Second Life and other virtual worlds. He’s spent the past twenty years talking up alternate realities. “I still believe all the ridiculous stuff I said so long ago,” he explained.
But when he asked Mellissinos and Wladawsky-Berger how companies like IBM and Sun could actually generate money from Second Life, they couldn’t give him much of an answer. Wladawsky-Berger said that, just like the web of the mid 90s, virtual worlds would boost IBM revenue by “significantly expanding” the number of people who use IT. “The more people who use IT, the more money we make,” he said.
Lanier was quick with an attempt to paraphrase this argument: “So if more people use software, it’s more likely it is to break, and they’re more likely to need consultants like IBM?”
In the end, all Lanier could do was cling to the notion that the world’s population – that’s the real world - could support itself by selling computer graphics. “In 25 years, robotics will be so good, we’ll have no more manufacturing jobs. Software will be so good, there will be no more consulting jobs. But we will all get rich buying and selling virtual goods.”
Pointing to his fellow speakers, he added: “In my opinion, all of you are saving civilization.”
How SL will save the world or not .
Obviously, at some point, the millions of servers needed to run SL will have to be housed underwater, heating the oceans and turning the sea into a big abundant fish-soup for everyone . Malnutrition will be solved, and the Third World will have a Second Chance™ .
What do we get from SL that we don't from the internet?
That is the question you must ask. People that have tried SL and didn't stay cannot see where it is headed.
Perhaps it will not be SL on top but some other virtual world instead.
What I envision:
Sending in photographs of yourself and getting a virtual model that looks exactly like yourself. Then being able to try on different sets of virtual clothing to see how they look on you. Then, choosing what you like and having it delivered to you in real life. All from your office.
Most people cannot afford to travel extensively let alone leave their own city. In a virtual world you can take a mini-vacation.
Try playing the part of a child and living a second childhood. Playing and laughing with other children. The bonus here is that if you don't like what is happening you can just hit that red X and escape easily.
Companies could hire actors to put on shows at their virtual islands that the customers could interact with.
Instead of using the phone, travel inside SL and meet with family and friends from across the globe. Share time together exploring unknown parts of the world or just sit back and enjoy the same movie in real time.
These are only a few of the many ideas floating around in my fertile brain.
If you hate it or don't get it, why such much vitriol?
Second Life simply adds a computerized 3D layer to everything we already do in our day to day real lives as well as the lives and activities we do while online be it the Internet or gaming. It is a social space for human beings to interact. We interact in real space. We interact on My Space. We interact on Xbox Live. We also interact in Second Life. There is no difference in any of this, only the medium changes. Second Life is simply another medium by which people can form relationships and a place where people can be creative. So why so much hatred?
Second Life is nothing but a step towards the direction of the 3D Internet. Just like VRML was. I really don't think 3D will overtake the 2D Internet. At best, we will have a combination of the two. People will have choice and will be able to decide how much they are willing to immerse themselves in some thing other than they can physically touch. For some, the web as it is today will always be enough. For others, there will be spaces like Second Life.
The Second Life world is continuously populated with 25-48K people 24/7. There is never any down time in Second Life. $1-2 million dollars is spent per day by users of Second Life. These numbers might be small now, but it has already grown significantly within the past year. Second Life represents the first real leap towards the 3D Internet. People get it (especially Europeans). They are using it. It is not going away. End of story. Don't be afraid. Technology is your friend. Level 70 is just a number....