Second Life Morals and Ethics

Wired: Brussels police have begun an investigation into a citizen’s allegations of rape — in Second Life.

Second Life, for those of you who don’t know, is the ultimate geek escapism.  You create a brand new online persona, who is far cooler than the real you, and lacks any the social inadequacies that hamper real life geeks.  You can get a “Second Life Job”, buy a “Second Life” house, marry a “second life” wife.  You get the picture, its like a huge geeky experiment in escapism – basically what everybody thought the internet was when they first heard of it.

So what’s the deal?  Sounds like some people might enjoy this.  Well, in the “alpha” of Second Life, i.e. the real world, we humans spent thousands of years creating a moral and ethical standard, which most people adhere to. Second Lifers are now doing things that they would not normally do in the real world.  THere are stories of rape, theft.  Horrible real life crimes, but in cyber space do they count? 

The impact of any crime is the emotional harm that occurs to the victim.  These online lives that are traumatized are actually real geeks… people.  Its an ethical question that we must form an answer to soon.  Anybody remember Asimov’s recommendations regarding this?

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