We’ve heard about software agents for years, programs that are designed or design themselves based on observing your digital behaviors to act on our behalf, conducting ongoing research, answering the phone for us, etc. See Apple’s Knowledge Navigator video, which Shaun McElroy reminded us of in U Tech Tips on April 1.
With the emergence of virtual worlds such as SecondLife, will will likely be seeing (if not already) virtual personages, who are not being driven by a human, but instead by intelligent software that is designed to accomplish some goal, either benign or malevolent. It’s going to happen (if not already)!
And so, here are some more future questions for your students.
- Who’s responsible?
- What are the legal ramifications of non-human virtual identities or agents that are not human driven?
- In what ways might current law cross over into the virtual world?
- Where do evil programs go to mend their ways?
Jacob van Kokswijk seeks to explore these and other questions related to non-human virtual identities in his new book, Digital Ego, available through University of Chicago Press. ((Visser, Gerrit. “Social and Legal Consequences of Virtual Identities.” [Weblog SmartMobs: The Next Social Revolution] 10 Apr 2008. 10 Apr 2008 http://www.smartmobs.com/2008/04/10/ social-and-legal-consequences-of-virtual-identities/.))