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Google penetrates fake sex world with Lively

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It starts with a hug, then some petting on top of colored balls and before you know it you're down at some 3D sex club wielding a dildo.

Yes, Google has innocently wandered into the world of casual encounters with the launch of its own 3D reality alternative to Linden Lab's Second Life.

The internet's favorite search engine has launched Lively, a virtual world where you can create and personalize an online avatar and personal room.

Rather than re-create a reality in Linden Labs' world, though, Lively lets you tap your existing online presence. You can suck in content from elsewhere on the web and embed your Lively areas onto your web properties, such as a blog, MySpace or Facebook Page using Google widgets. You can also email others using a regular web address. What will they think of next?

According to Google, you can play YouTube videos in your virtual TV, put pictures in virtual picture frames inside your virtual rooms and have your Lively rooms run on your desktop, which may or may not be virtual.

Lively rooms embedded in web sites let people "interact" through animated actions, according to Google. "In our user research, we've been amazed at how much more poignant it is to receive an animated hug than seeing the text '[[hug]]'," according to Google's blog.

And that could be where the real problem starts. According to Indiana University's Edward Castronova, sex contributes to "a substantial portion, perhaps even the majority" of economic transactions in Second Life.

At least Mac users are protected. Lively only runs on Windows XP, although it supports Internet Explorer and Firefox.

Time to buy those fake genitals you've always wanted on Google Checkout.

Think we'll go down to the pub and receive a poignant punch in the face from a human.®

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