In a podcast by Second Life CEO
, Philip Rosedale commented that Virtual Worlds have a higher density of usage in areas of bad weather & good band width. Cold, dark days in Great Britain, Scandinavia and the Pacific Northwest encourage the Digerati
to escape into virtual environments consisting of sunny seaside plazas filled with fountains and flowers while networking with an international community of creative technical leaders. Time zones are transcended. There are events scheduled round-the-clock and round-the-world, with translation software in place to minimize language barriers.
In Neil Stephenson’s Snow Crash
, characters use a 3-D immersive digital environment to escape a depressing physical existence in a futuristic depiction of what is currently the Western United States. Mr. Ng, a Vietnam helicopter crash victim escapes his paraplegic body in a virtual re-creation of a French Indochinese plantation, complete with rice paddies, while running Ng Securities. A pizza delivery boy (calling himself the "deliverator") escapes his mundane job as a nobody, to become a warrior Prince of the cybernetic Underworld in the Metaverse.
Adolescent patients undergoing solid organ (kidney, lung, and heart) transplant procedures at Children’s Hospital Boston
are able to escape some of the limitations of their physical bodies through "identity construction environments
," a term coined by Marina Umaschi Bers
during her doctoral thesis work in 2001. Bers created Zora
, a three-dimensional virtual world, as part of her doctoral work at the MIT Media Lab
, providing tools for children to create, chat, navigate, and inhabit a virtual city. Young people were able to communicate with other patients, nurses or doctors with a greater feeling of privacy. With avatars
often in the form of cartoon characters with fictional names, many patients reported that they were able to distract themselves from the dialysis, enjoying virtual mobility with more anonymity to discuss embarrassing concerns. Bers received a 2005 National Science Foundation
Career Award and five-year grant for her work on virtual communities of learning and care.Visual Barriers to Success
What we look like does undoubtedly have an impact on how successful we are in life. Some determining factors include:Height
Kristie M. Engemann and Michael T. Owyang
discuss the effects that visual appearances have within the business world in their article "So Much for That Merit Raise: The Link between Wages and Appearance
" April of 2005. "In a recent book, journalist Malcolm Gladwell
reported the results of his survey of about one-half of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. He found that the average CEO is approximately 3 inches taller than the average American man, who stands 5-foot-9."
Economists Nicola Persico, Andrew Postlewaite and Dan Silverman
found that for white men in the United States of the same height, the one who was taller at 16 would most likely earn the higher wage.Weight
Economists Susan Averett and Sanders Korenman
studied the effects of weight on wages. They found that women who were obese earned 17 percent lower wages. A typical white woman weighing 64 pounds more than average, earns about 9 percent less.BeautyHamermesh and Biddle
found a person with below-average looks tended to earn 9 percent less per hour, and an above-average person tended to earn 5 percent more per hour than an average-looking person.Race
Although we enact laws in an attempt to eliminate discrimination on the grounds of race in employment, education housing and the provision of goods and services, The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
cite examples of case studies where laws have not solved the problems.
In fact, in 2004, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(EEOC) received more than 27,000 complaints of racial discrimination, settled nearly 3,000 cases, and levied more than $61 million in fines, according to the most recent statistics available.Age
The brilliant teenager is passed over for being too young while the experienced applicant is thought to have too few years left. Companies claim to want experience, yet they don’t want someone who is old enough to have had that experience. Timothy Leary's
mantra of the 60's of "Don’t trust anyone over 30" is just as limiting as those who become so set in their ways that they will not open to new ideas.
What will happen when we transcend these physical barriers?Edward Castronova
(Associate Professor of Telecommunications at Indiana University) discusses Synthetic Economies and the Social Question
in a July 2005 paper. He sees a future where mental abilities will dominate over physical attributes as predictors of wealth. With avatar-based educational opportunities and business relationships, the sources of these unfair inequalities of age, race, height, race, and beauty are removed.
I’m curious. When given a choice, I wonder how many will choose to embrace the uniqueness of their physical attributes in order to connect with other individuals with similar backgrounds and experiences? And how many will choose to create new bodies that they feel more accurately reflect who they are on the inside?
How will these technology advancements impact our society?
Labels: economics, education, society, technology