Not So Great Britain

Virtual worlds ‘could replace real relationships’ | June 20, 2007

The internet-based virtual world Second Life may have a serious impact on people’s real life relationships, one of Britain’s best-known scientists warned yesterday.Baroness Susan Greenfield, director of the Royal Institution, said she feared users of the popular simulation could abandon the messy intimacy of “real-life” human relations for two-dimensional liaisons in the virtual world.Second Life was started in San Francisco in 1999 and now has seven million players who can create their own characters, known as avatars, buy goods, throw parties and build their own homes.

However, Baroness Greenfield says the implications have not been thought through. “People who dismiss it as a game will be in for a rude awakening,” she said. “This will have a huge impact on society.

“Offering people the chance to have a permanent soap opera going on, in which they can participate, will be even more pervasive than reality TV such as Big Brother.

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