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Vy am I covered in goo?
October 10, 2006 2:10 AM   Subscribe

SecondLife under attack from self-replicating grey goo. Worried about your avatar? Escape back to meatspace. Scripts not included on meatspace objects. Exporting self-replicating grey goo objects currently not available. (via boing boing) Free t-shirt not included.
posted by loquacious (70 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Uh... weird.
posted by grouse at 2:25 AM on October 10, 2006


"Okay listen up everybody, stay away from the brown acid grey goo."
posted by Rhomboid at 2:47 AM on October 10, 2006


I have lived long enough for a grey goo attack to occur.

Life is good.
posted by effugas at 3:05 AM on October 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


So the internet tubes are firing grey goo at us after years of us firing white goo at it from our fleshy tubes.
It's only fair. (via boink boink)
posted by srboisvert at 3:10 AM on October 10, 2006


We prefer the more politically correct term "geriatric semen" instead of "grey goo."
posted by Rhomboid at 3:14 AM on October 10, 2006 [2 favorites]


Didn't this happen a while ago as well?
posted by Jimbob at 3:51 AM on October 10, 2006


"There are new reports of grey goo in-world, which may be causing teleportation failures and other slow-downs. "

This sounds like what we'll have to deal with after the Singularity instead of hurricanes and earthquakes.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 4:12 AM on October 10, 2006


This is why you shouldn't release your code under viral licenses.
posted by gsteff at 4:37 AM on October 10, 2006


Malice or liberation?
posted by The White Hat at 4:41 AM on October 10, 2006


This is pretty funny; the comment by entropyfails in the first link really nails it. The only contact I've had with SL has been through an IRC gateway with some friends of mine who have "moved in." It doesn't surprise me that Linden doesn't want to remove this "feature" since part of the attraction of SL is that you can do shit that's impossible in RL. But then again, if everybody's a god godhood ceases to be all that special.
posted by localroger at 5:11 AM on October 10, 2006


Ok, so it's effectively a denial-of-service attack caused by scripts that take in-game objects and replicate them endlessly without any energy or resource requirement from the local environment. Got it. But I'm with the guy who posted this:

after reading these descriptions of the attacks, i have only one question: what does the “grey goo” look like? Can it be seen? Or does the server wink out before its discovered?
posted by mediareport at 5:35 AM on October 10, 2006


yeah, anybody got a screenshot?
posted by fungible at 5:57 AM on October 10, 2006


Nice reference to Ghostbusters II in the headline, by the way.
posted by Bryan Behrenshausen at 5:58 AM on October 10, 2006


Is secondlife an MMORPG of some kind? I've never heard of it, so this post is pretty darn confusing.
posted by deadmessenger at 6:03 AM on October 10, 2006


After the Singularity we'll be the grey goo.

But we'll be grey goo that can do an assload of megainstructions per milliseconds per milligram so it will be cool by default.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:04 AM on October 10, 2006


Is secondlife an MMORPG of some kind? I've never heard of it, so this post is pretty darn confusing.

It's a MMO, but not an RPG, not a game at all in fact. It's a 3d sandbox with avatar chat, it has a comparatively small player base (250,000 or so, compare to WoW's 5 million, or even Lineage's 1.5 million).

Yet we hear about Second Life all the time because bloggers and non-gamers just love going on about the possibilities of a "virtual world" in their own little Snow Crash fantasy. Because of the lack of structure in SL, and the freeform modding and scripting tools, it's fertile ground for people to come up with long bullshit theories about the future of online interaction. Thanks, but I remember VRML.
posted by malphigian at 6:24 AM on October 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


Nice reference to Ghostbusters II in the headline, by the way.

I've been waiting for a valid reason to use that as a tagline for years and years. I probably wouldn't have had to wait so long if I was a bukakke fan.
posted by loquacious at 6:25 AM on October 10, 2006


Not if. When.
posted by craven_morhead at 6:32 AM on October 10, 2006


Thanks, but I remember VRML.

I'm not going to argue against your points about bullshit theories, but SL isn't VRML 2.0. It's a proprietary client, not a protocol or language. It is a sandbox and a playground.

Also, VRML was attempted at a point in time that included neither robust/cheap hardware support nor the amount of internet-enabled home computers that we have today.

The mainstream popularity of games like World of Warcraft as well as the still skyrocketing growth of the video game industry in general totally punctures the "VR is sooo 15 years ago" argument.

It's already here. Thankfully it doesn't involve bulky, dorky head mounted displays and shiny black lycra catsuits with snazzy fiber optic piping. Perhaps someday soon we'll just leapfrog right over that embarassing nerdalia straight into some kind of direct brain interface. Hopefully one that doesn't involve the word "jacking" or impossibly large metal spikes inserted into the brain stem while strapped into a moldy dentist's chair.
posted by loquacious at 6:38 AM on October 10, 2006


Oh great, the purple, sub-Nietzschean dreams of "direct brain interface" again. "Now I am light, now I fly, now I see myself beneath myself" my twentieth-century ass.
posted by adamgreenfield at 6:41 AM on October 10, 2006 [2 favorites]


It's not the same, but it's reminiscent of the World of Warcraft "corrupted blood" griefer attack from last year. Which I thought was absolutely hilarious. (Also. Also also.)
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 6:46 AM on October 10, 2006


Please to be having your twentieth-century ass preserved for viewing in the twenty-first century, so we know about left behinds.
posted by mephron at 6:47 AM on October 10, 2006


Oh great, the purple, sub-Nietzschean dreams of "direct brain interface" again. "Now I am light, now I fly, now I see myself beneath myself" my twentieth-century ass.

Well said, but you can have your antediluvian fairie-stories and light fire to them.

What I want from such a gadget is to be able to interface with complex math directly with my mind. I want to taste a fractal and cut my gums on it's awfully serrated edges. I want to be able to think text at it without the fetters of typing. I want to be able to record my emotions, my imagination and my thoughts and inspect them later. I want to make music in ways not that even the gods ever dreamed was possible.

I want to fucking make shit, not bask in the idiot-glow of some wishbox.
posted by loquacious at 6:51 AM on October 10, 2006 [5 favorites]


I want to taste a fractal and cut my gums on it's awfully serrated edges. I want to be able to think text at it without the fetters of typing. I want to be able to record my emotions, my imagination and my thoughts and inspect them later. I want to make music in ways not that even the gods ever dreamed was possible.
I can see through time!
posted by Rhomboid at 6:59 AM on October 10, 2006


I can see through time!

Mmm. Spicy.
posted by loquacious at 7:06 AM on October 10, 2006


Deadmessenger:

A quick rundown on Second Life from someone who neither likes nor dislikes it, and therefore hopefully a little less coloured opinion:

It's a "virtual world" sandbox type thing with a relatively small user base, which kinda looks like a MMORPG (you have avatars who walk around in a world), but all the stuff in the world is created by users, via construction tools. So it's not like an MMORPG where people "make" armor or shields that were actually designed by the game creators, and just crafted, but more like a bunch of people sharing a CAD program, making stuff from scratch. It also has scripting / programming of objects, so you can make objects that do things (some folks made a working rollercoaster, etc.).
posted by Bugbread at 7:07 AM on October 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


Malice or liberation?

It's Captain Kirk. He beamed down, snogged some foxy lady then knocked her out (not neccessarily in that order) then declared his intention to destroy this ungodly artificial paradise so that these misguided creatures can live, love, hurt and die like real humans.
posted by CynicalKnight at 7:07 AM on October 10, 2006


loquacious -- My snippiness was directly at Second Life's sandbox style "virtual reality", which is quite different from a game like WoW.

The comparison to VRML had nothing to do with technology, although considering me suitably impressed that Second Life has a "proprietary client"!. My point had to do with hearing the same scifi fantasy garbage then too. "Dude, instead of clicking around some flat web page, you can actually walk through the shelves of the virtual store. Wow man, imagine!".

I think second life is fine for what it is, a graphical MOO, it's a nice application for online community, making some stuff, and engaging in cybersex with a man pretending to be a woman. But people constantly go off on this downright crazy hyperbole about Second Life -- it's the future of online community, that you better get some real estate there fast, that you can make god-defying music while chewing fractals.

Case in point: A friend of mine works at a museum here in NY, she does web stuff. The director of her museum heard some Second Life prophet talk at a conference and came back with orders for her to look into building a version of their museum in Second Life. Kudos to the marketing people at Second Life, I guess.
posted by malphigian at 7:20 AM on October 10, 2006


It's Captain Kirk.

Malice? Or liberation?
posted by loquacious at 7:21 AM on October 10, 2006


For more info about Second Life in general, find The Economist from a few weeks ago; they did a somewhat in-depth article about it. I think it was posted in the blue somewhere, but I'm not positive.
posted by inigo2 at 7:23 AM on October 10, 2006


Thankfully it doesn't involve bulky, dorky head mounted displays and shiny black lycra catsuits with snazzy fiber optic piping.

I rememeber a virtual reality helmet for SL done by the Make:Blog staff, but I can't find the link.
posted by darkripper at 7:25 AM on October 10, 2006


The comparison to VRML had nothing to do with technology, although considering me suitably impressed that Second Life has a "proprietary client"!.

Just in case that wasn't meant to be sarcasm, I wasn't meaning that to be a good thing at all. Just to be clear. In counterpoint to VRML SecondLife is a more-or-less a closed system, not to mention a closed sandbox.

"Dude, instead of clicking around some flat web page, you can actually walk through the shelves of the virtual store. Wow man, imagine!".

That I entirely agree with. SL seems to be less and less of a place to explore weird shit and more and more of a place of endless, empty and spammy stores.

it's the future of online community, that you better get some real estate there fast, that you can make god-defying music while chewing fractals.

Please don't associate my tangential hyperbolic masturbatory nerdboy fantasies with SL. It's not going to happen, there. They're neither original ideas nor new ones, but they're powerful to me.
posted by loquacious at 7:30 AM on October 10, 2006


Gray goo > grey goo.
posted by aerotive at 7:35 AM on October 10, 2006


Fair enough, apologies with the snark directed your way loquacious.
posted by malphigian at 7:36 AM on October 10, 2006


No need to apologize. I take as good as I dish and I can handle my own. ;) I just wanted to be clear that I wasn't an SL cheerleader.
posted by loquacious at 7:41 AM on October 10, 2006


I have an avatar there but don't use it much; scripting and building things for my avatar to "use" isnt' all that much fun to me, and the chatting via avatar isn't any better than IM. However, my spouse has found SL invaluable for reaching new people with his music, by playing live shows online in the SL "clubs." He will actually be paying for some of his album recording with the tips he's gotten, and his itunes sales have definitely had a bump. It is pretty cool to be able to play live from TX in your living room to people from (at his last gig) Wales, California, Germany, and England.
posted by emjaybee at 7:51 AM on October 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


I've been waiting for a valid reason to use that as a tagline for years and years. I probably wouldn't have had to wait so long if I was a bukakke fan.

Should be "Vy am I dripping viz goo?" Not that I'm a bukakke fan either...
posted by Foosnark at 8:13 AM on October 10, 2006


Wanna chew on fractals? Look no further than a bowl of Cap'n Crunch: that shit hurts.

As for my twentieth-century ass, I don't want it preserved - that's exactly the point. All these extropian/transhumanist fantasies sicken me to the core. DNR, ya?
posted by adamgreenfield at 8:25 AM on October 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


I, for one, welcome our new gelatinous, self-replicating greyscale overlords...
posted by Mister_A at 8:33 AM on October 10, 2006


Oh great, the purple, sub-Nietzschean dreams of "direct brain interface" again. "Now I am light, now I fly, now I see myself beneath myself" my twentieth-century ass.

Y'know adamgreenfield, I like a lot of things you've said in the past, but this? Is it meant to be some kind of coherent, well-formed objection to the idea? Because it reads more like a sliming. The concept appears to have been sullied in your mind by association with some person or persons who didn't impress you. You need to get past that sort of issue and talk about a thing based on its inherent characteristics rather than whatever personal associations are at work in the above.

Right now, keyboards and displays are a necessary bottleneck. Eventually they won't be.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:35 AM on October 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


I'm with Malphigian.

My subscription to early 90s Wired made me jaded.
posted by empath at 8:40 AM on October 10, 2006


Grey Goo > Gray Goo.
posted by grubi at 8:45 AM on October 10, 2006


George, no, you've caught me out. It's shorthand for a profound revulsion with an entire discourse which is, properly, offtopic. I apologize.
posted by adamgreenfield at 9:05 AM on October 10, 2006


adam -- you're a class act.

My interest in cortical interfaces is strictly speaking offtopic here as well; I don't really give a rat's ass about VR, or at least not the sort under discussion. But just as it's extremely useful to be able to hit the web from your cellphone whereever you happen to be, it'll be useful to interact with various systems when physical access to a manual and visual interface is impractical or limiting. I'm looking forward to it. Assuming we don't fuck the world up so much that we start backsliding in terms of technology and access to it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:11 AM on October 10, 2006


I second the kudos for the GBII reference. Though it's actually: "Vy am I drippings with goo?"
posted by turducken at 9:13 AM on October 10, 2006


This thread is useless without pics.
posted by riotgrrl69 at 9:23 AM on October 10, 2006


Oh, and it's "VY... VY AM I DRIPPING VIS GOO?". But well done anyway!
posted by riotgrrl69 at 9:24 AM on October 10, 2006


Now this is a derail I can appreciate. You're all wrong. It's "Vy am I drippinged vid goo?"
posted by loquacious at 9:26 AM on October 10, 2006


VISZ. "Vy ... vy em I dvrippingd visz GoO?"
posted by riotgrrl69 at 9:32 AM on October 10, 2006


This feels like a violent prolonged transformative psychic episode.
posted by analogue at 9:52 AM on October 10, 2006


Vhy em I drippengz vihz gü?
posted by MetaMonkey at 9:55 AM on October 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


Here's that Economist article on SL, see also IBM's 'secret island'.
posted by MetaMonkey at 9:59 AM on October 10, 2006


What's interesting about SL is its economics. Its currency is convertible to US dollars, if you didn't know, and there is a lively real estate business with a few genuine real estate tycoons making a lot of real money. And there's other business activity. There's a big fashion market which was written up in either the NYT or the WSJ, I can't remember which one, and a number of people are making good (real) money by being Sl fashion designers. There is recently major advertisers advertising within SL, as well as other real-world institutions building an SL presence.

I've played around with SL in the past, last year and earler right after it appeared, and I personally don't have much interest in being there. But I do have an interest in virtual worlds and how this stuff is going to play out, particularly economics but also other things, and, honestly, for this reason SL truly is interesting and worth watching.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:07 AM on October 10, 2006


Incidentally, if you're interested in keeping abreast of what's going on in virtual worlds from a more academic point-of-view, there's an excellent group blog, Terra Nova, written by a number of academic and industry experts in virtual worlds. There are no entries as of right now on the Second Life grey goo problem, but I imagine there'll be some discussion of it shortly.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:11 AM on October 10, 2006


loquacious : Thankfully it doesn't involve bulky, dorky head mounted displays and shiny black lycra catsuits with snazzy fiber optic piping.

Woah there buddy, you don't hear me making fun of your work clothes do you? I'm trying to start a new fashon movement here, people. Do you think I wear black lycra catsuits to the office because I like the? No. I do it because one day, god willing, they will replace the stodgy suits we have been wearing for years.

Fiber optic is the new Windsor knot.
posted by quin at 1:28 PM on October 10, 2006



posted by Ogre Lawless at 1:31 PM on October 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


quin, please do remember that some people should neither be seen in Spandex nor encouraged to think that any such thing is OK. (And lest you think I'm reinforcing sizist beauty standards, etc., I should emphasize that by "some people" I mean "virtually everyone.")

I suspect that the reason I find SL and all similar virtual worlds so hard to stomach is that the more investment is made in them (personally and institutionally), the less is made in the parallel structures here in the actual.

I mean this in both a literal sense - i.e. I'm afraid that every young architect entranced by the frictionless possibilities of building in virtuality will mean one less who understands how to construct load-bearing overpasses here in the real world - and in a spiritual. Regardless of whether or not the in-game currency is convertible in one particular environment, nothing costs anything. But I'd wager that cost, risk, and the prospect of loss are what make us human.

Virtual worlds still strike me as being for those who find shared reality intolerable, for one reason or another. Being big into the "be here now" stuff myself, this will always strike me as both sad and as a kind of renunciation of responsibility. So I say bully for the purveyors of goo. New Babylon must fall.
posted by adamgreenfield at 2:33 PM on October 10, 2006


Virtual worlds still strike me as being for those who find shared reality intolerable, for one reason or another.

Maybe that's true for a very small subset of players (those who truly retreat from real life into the game), but for most, virtual worlds are no more a "renunciation of responsibility" than music, TV, or books are. If you care to make the argument that human beings ought to be doing something responsible and productive 100% of the time, that's one thing, but otherwise I don't see the problem in spending some of one's leisure time in the virtual world of a game, as opposed to the virtual world of a book, a movie, or a daydream.

Everybody "finds shared reality intolerable" once in a while, and everyone has ways of coping with it. In a lot of ways, virtual worlds are much more community-and-creation-based than most alternative human distractions.

Regardless of whether or not the in-game currency is convertible in one particular environment, nothing costs anything.

If in-game currency is in any way convertible to USD, then that currency does cost something, by definition. The idea that "there is no loss" in a game with a well-defined exchange between in-game cash and USD makes no sense; you may as well say that there is no loss on the stock market, since stocks are only "convertible in one particular environment". There are people who have won and lost significant real-world fortunes playing MMORPGs -- hell, there are people in China who actually work for their daily living playing World of Warcraft -- so I'd say that your ideas about the lack of "cost, risk, and the prospect of loss" in virtual worlds are way out of date.
posted by vorfeed at 4:04 PM on October 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


And here I had been toying with the idea of joining Second Life specifically for the purpose of making something as obnoxious as this and seeing if the system could cope. I guess that question has been answered.
posted by adipocere at 4:41 PM on October 10, 2006


adamgreenfield : "Regardless of whether or not the in-game currency is convertible in one particular environment, nothing costs anything."

I don't follow. By the same token, regardless of whether Euros are convertible into dollars, nothing bought by an American in Europe costs anything?

Now, if the argument is that you could make for free anything that was sold by others in game, that would make sense (even in real life, where you can make cheaply things that cost much more if premade, there are still material costs), but as I read it, that's not the argument you're making.
posted by Bugbread at 5:23 PM on October 10, 2006


vorfeed and bugbread, you are being far too literal. When I say that events in Second Life have no cost, I mean something like this:

When ten of my friends gather in my apartment, you can take it for granted that someone will spill wine on the couch, that someone else will be unaware of the runnel of pigeon shit on the back of their left pantleg, that yet another will shift in her seat and be unable to find a comfortable perch. These facets of experience are annoyances, surely, but in a very deep way they are precisely what it means to be in a place and to use it. To use a place changes it.

By contrast, in Second Life, your experience of a place does not degrade it, even minutely. Your passage leaves no trace, imposes no cost, marks neither figure nor ground. The room was perfect when you arrived and perfect when you left. In this sense, the notion of cost has nothing to do with whether people can lose money there. I'm simply among those who believe that what we lose by giving our life time to such places-without-reality is worth far more than money.

These ideas, by the way, will never be out of date, though they may certainly be untimely.
posted by adamgreenfield at 9:51 PM on October 10, 2006


I'm simply among those who believe that what we lose by giving our life time to such places-without-reality is worth far more than money

I find this hard to fathom - is SL not just another form of web community/social medium, not unlike forums, chatrooms, multiplayer games, and this here metafilter. Is it just VR style environments that draw your ire?
posted by MetaMonkey at 10:11 PM on October 10, 2006


I'm simply among those who believe that what we lose by giving our life time to such places-without-reality is worth far more than money.

Again, why doesn't spending time with a book or a movie count as entering a "place-without-reality"? When I read a book, this doesn't change the book one bit, yet I can certainly be said to have used the book, perhaps even to have gone to the world of the book in the same sense that a game player can be said to go to the world of the game. Yet I don't see anybody railing against the horrible loss that fiction represents. Same goes for film.

I really do not see what's so different about virtual worlds -- you can still experience them with wine on the real-world table and pigeonshit on your real-world leg, if you see what I mean. Besides, there are many games in which one's passage does alter the game world. Characters leave footprints in the snow in WoW, for example, and in SL you can change the environment in any number of ways. Also, I would argue that one's passing leaves a mark on the community of a game, one that's far more significant than any mark on the graphical representation of the game world.

I have to side with MetaMonkey, here: why are you on metafilter if you have such a problem with virtual environments? The difference between the interaction on mefi and in something like SL or WoW is that chat occurs in real-time, can be spoken rather than typed, and is accompanied by pretty graphics. Interpersonal relations there are very much like interpersonal relations here, so what's the problem? If anything, voice services like Ventrilo and Skype make chatting on WoW or SL much more like real life than metafilter is.
posted by vorfeed at 12:24 AM on October 11, 2006


adamgreenfield : "I'm simply among those who believe that what we lose by giving our life time to such places-without-reality is worth far more than money."

So if a billionaire offered you a million dollars to play Second Life for 5 minutes, you'd turn it down?

Yes, obviously, I'm being too literal, but that's because no matter how figuratively I try to interpret what you say, it doesn't make sense to me. "What we lose is worth more than money"? What does that actually mean? Is it just a fancy way of saying "I don't like it", or are you actually talking about real money, and if so, how much?
posted by Bugbread at 7:00 AM on October 11, 2006


What I want from such a gadget is to be able to interface with complex math directly with my mind.

I do this already. With paper.
posted by sonofsamiam at 7:06 AM on October 11, 2006


If only we had that rebooting option in the real world. You know, think of the possibilities if we could restore the world to its previous state at any number of pre-defined "known stable" versions. Except that we would probably end up in the same shitty state we are in now.

adamgreenfield is saying some excellent things here. I wish I could express stuff like that.
posted by dg at 8:06 PM on October 11, 2006


All these extropian/transhumanist fantasies sicken me to the core.

Viewing them as a response more reasonable than clocktowers-and-rifles to the despair that grows from misanthropy, I remain unsickened.

Dreaming about dreaming your own dreams rather than someone else's is good.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:28 PM on October 11, 2006


i liked this thread better when it was about janosz poha

(which, by the way is an excellent name still available for any reader considering joining the elite ranks of mefites who alt-tab between the blue and the yellow)
posted by analogue at 11:06 PM on October 11, 2006


Sun Holds News Conference In Second Life. I really don't know how the SL fellows manage to get all these corporations to keep doing this kind of stuff.
posted by MetaMonkey at 2:42 PM on October 12, 2006


I guess it's no surprise that I'm inclined to disagree with adamgreenfield. But my disagreement is more a distinct point of view from either his or the transhumanists (or whatever) he criticizes than it is an endorsement of those.

I do think the unbridled optimism of some of these folks is wrongheaded. On the other hand, I strongly disagree with almost every and any essentialist philosophy on principle. I don't know what "real" is and I certainly don't know what "human nature" is. Nor do I care. I'd like to see more and more people living lives of happiness and greater fulfillment of potential, but I have no essentialist theories of what it might take to realize such hopes. Indeed, I am much more a pragmatist than not. I'm also a functionalist: in this sense I don't really believe that there's some essentialist qualitative distinction between real and virtual other than the obvious (but my point is that the obvious may not, in fact, require a functionalist qualitative distinction). It should be noted, however, that from a functionalist perspective virtual worlds remain extremely simplistic and not in any deep sense yet comparable to the real world. Yet in the domain of economics, they've become realistic enough in some limited cases that they've been more successful as laboratories of economics than anything we've seen before. This is true as well in some limited sociological domains.

But I think the main thing I wanted to express is that I simply don't care very much about how humans come to live in the future, nor what kinds of creatures we become in the future. I neither have a basis on which to make absolute judgments about what is better or worse nor do I have an idea about why it should matter to me in the first place.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:30 PM on October 12, 2006


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