Elon University

One of five networked-future questions: Looking more than 10 years in the future, what technological development will have the greatest impact on society?

Participants in the Metaverse Roadmap Summit at Stanford Research Institute in May 2006 were asked a series of five questions regarding the future. This page reflects some of the answers to just one of the five questions. We include only the most telling responses out of more than 100 answers, so every participant is not included on every page.

Each page includes brief biographies, brief quotes and links to audio files. The pulled quotes included on the page are short snippets of longer responses. To get each person’s complete remarks in answer to the questions on which he or she provided a response, please click on the accompanying link to listen to or to save each audio file, or you can navigate to the Metaverse 2006 transcript page, which carries a print version of each person’s remarks on the questions. On this page, we collect the most telling responses to this particular question, sharing the comments of 20 of the 25 people interviewed.

Agabra Headshot“You’re 10 years on with people who understand this intuitively. They understand the way of thinking with a ‘hive mind,’ with a brain with an external hard drive; they’ve grown up with Google.”

Bridget Agabra, project manager for the Metaverse Roadmap at the Acceleration Studies Foundation, has a background in business and non-profit governance. She previously brought together game designers and researchers as a co-organizer of Ludium1 at Indiana University. She was also profiled as an online player for CNN, Newsweek, & USA Today.

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Book Headshot “I would hope there would be some way to breach the language barriers … there is still a significant barrier even within the worlds we have today that revolves around language. There are all sorts of other barriers such as cultural, but I think if we can start with language and we can solve that problem.”

Betsy Book is the director of product management at Makena Technologies, creators of the virtual world There. She previously developed co-branded web sites for iVillage, served as the VP of product development for the ecommerce site Flooz.com, and managed large-scale moderation and reporting programs for entertainment industry clients such as AOL, MTV, Showtime, Country Music Television, and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. In 2003, she launched Virtual Worlds Review, a web-based guide to social virtual worlds.

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Bridges Headshot “I believe the Singularity is coming … Once you start to extend the human lifespan, then you get increasingly better technology to continue to extend the human lifespan, and successive generations can live longer and longer, which can lead to all sorts of literally world-changing and life-changing things.”

Corey Bridges is co-founder, executive producer and marketing director, the Multiverse Network. He previously worked at Zone Labs, Netflix, Netscape, Borland, and The Discovery Channel. The Multiverse Network is a company aiming to become the world’s leading network of massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) and 3D virtual worlds. Bridges specializes in market creation and growth for new products and has built and launched a number of technology platforms. He has collaborated with tech expert John Dvorak on multiple books.

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Brigis Headshot“Our ability to constantly look at the companies we’re buying from and investing in and see what kind of socially responsible decisions they’re making … (when) information becomes ubiquitous, we’ll be able to change the world with our buying power and with our investing decisions.”

Iveta Brigis is the former executive director of the Acceleration Studies Foundation, the non-profit organization that organized the Metaverse Roadmap Summit. She is working on her master’s of business administration at the University of California-Irvine.

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Cascio Headshot“High-bandwidth wireless connections … In the ideal world – the ideal, plausible world – you could have a country where you could go pretty much anywhere that’s even moderately urbanized and have a decent internet-based wireless connection.”

Jamais Cascio, the founder of Open the Future, writes about the intersection of emerging technologies and cultural transformation. In 2003, he co-founded WorldChanging.com. Cascio has spoken about future possibilities around the world, at venues including FuturShow3000 in Bologna, Italy, and the TED 2006 conference. After several years at scenario planning pioneer Global Business Network, he went on to craft scenarios on topics including energy, nuclear proliferation, and sustainable development.

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Cheng Headshot“Right now our tools for interfacing with those virtual worlds are still sort of primitive. We’re still using mice to maneuver around, we’re still looking at screens and using keyboards. The next revolution that will really change this environment is going to be a new form of input from the human user to the 3D world.”

Helen Cheng, assistant product manager for Seriosity, develops enterprise software based on principles of interactive game design. Cheng’s accomplishments include leading a 200-plus-member guild in the online game World of Warcraft, building applications within and for virtual worlds, and contributing to Wired magazine. When she isn’t writing, designing or powergaming she also works as a project director for the Accelerating Studies Foundation, and she helped plan the Metaverse Roadmap Summit. She previously worked at Electronic Arts and MTV Networks.

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Farmer Headshot“Technology has really rapidly deployed – mobile technology, specifically. America is actually behind some Asian countries, but there are lots of countries and lots of areas where they’re much further behind. Rich communications tools specifically, like cell phones in broad deployment, could have a fundamental effect on improving freedom across the world.”

F. Randall (Randy) Farmer is community strategic analyst for Yahoo!, Inc., developing and supporting online communities, focusing on next-generation identity/privacy, reputation and groups technologies and open APIs. For more than 30 years, he has been designing, building and managing online social media systems and related platform technologies. He co-created one of the first message boards, the first graphical virtual worlds with avatars and virtual currencies, the first online information marketplace, the first fully distributed virtual world platform, the first no-plug-in web session platform, and Yahoo! 360°.

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Garnett Headshot“The new modalities of human-computer interactions and interfaces and new understandings of how we can use the human mind to drive the power of those computing technologies … It’s virtual, it’s a world where imagination reigns and where creativity is the only capital one needs to do anything one can imagine.”

Guy Garnett is the director of the Cultural Computing Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where an interdisciplinary group is studying the forthcoming change in social, political, and economic dynamics due to the arrival of synthetic worlds on the 3D internet.

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Harvey Headshot“A tipping point of participation (in synthetic worlds) among people all over the world … it is plausible that the amount of commerce and the amount of objects or virtual items that people own in the virtual world will be as much as the amount of commerce or the amount of real objects in the real world.”

Will Harvey, founder and CEO of IMVU, is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and game programmer. He began in the video game industry when he was just 15 and still in high school. His latest work is with IMVU, an instant-messaging company. He is also the founders of There, Inc., an MMOG company. He studied computer science at Stanford University.

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James Headshot“There is going to be a transition or a point of inflection in the next hundred years … there will be what people like to call the Singularity … Technology is now moving at a pace where there is a likelihood that somewhere between silicon, nanotech and biotechnology we’re going to see machines or other life forms we have created become more intelligent than we are.”

Daniel James is founder and CEO of Three Rings, a San Francisco developer and operator of massively multi-player online games for the mass-market, casual audience. PUZZLE PIRATES and BANG! HOWDY are popular Three Rings titles. Prior to his work with Three Rings, he consulted on game design, toiled for many years on Middle-earth Online, and co-founded two profitable UK internet startups, Avalon and Sense Internet.

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Koster Headshot“The things that are really startling and amazing that are coming down the pike will be in biotech, they’re in nanotech, they’re not in just hardware. And they’re not just in network conductivity … Real strides are being made … What happens when the bones of your eardrum are spitting out an RSS feed?”

Raph Koster is a MMORPG designer and the former chief creative officer for Sony Online Entertainment. He joined Origin in 1995 as part of the original Ultima Online team. He also worked with Ultima Online: The Second Age, and served as lead designer for Ultima Online Live (the ongoing service for this online RPG) until 1999. He writes and speaks frequently on online game and community issues, and maintains a popular online website. He wrote the book “A Theory of Fun for Game Design,” published in 2004.

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Liebhold Headshot“In about 10 years we’re going to have massive computer resources available to everyone. The shortage of computing cycles is going to diminish. It’s not only an improvement in microscale computing but the emergence of nanoscale computing, biological computing.”

Mike Liebhold is senior researcher at the Institute for the Future,focusing on the implications and technologies of a geospatial web. He previously worked on semantic web frameworks at Intel Labs; as a senior scientist at Apple, where he led an investigation of cartographic and location-based hypermedia.; as CTO for Times Mirror publishing; and as a senior consulting architect at Netscape. He was also a principal investigator for a National Science Foundation project to bring Internet2 broadband IP networks to 70 rural, low-income communities in the US.

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Lombardi Headshot“What we’re in the middle of here is a real change in the way we use information technology … one of the things we’re exploring … is how we can take advantage of the fact that people are carrying these very powerful devices around with them.”

Julian Lombardi, is a director of information technology at Duke University and one of six principal architects of the Croquet Project (along with Alan Kay, David P. Reed, Andreas Raab, David A. Smith, and Mark McCahill). He is a computer scientist known for his work in user interface design and in the design of computer systems that support collaboration between large numbers of users. He began developing computer-supported collaboration systems involving self-optimizing massively multi-user online 3D environments in the mid-1990s.

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Moore Headshot“One would be ways that I could put myself into a virtual world. Currently I use a keyboard, I use a mouse, I might use a gamepad. I want to be freed from all that … I’m imagining nanosensors or a variety of technologies where I could project myself into a digital world with no wires attached.”

Bob Moore is a sociologist in the Computing Science Laboratory at PARC and a member of the PlayOn project team (www.parc.com/playon). He specializes in the micro-analysis of social interaction and practice in virtual worlds and in real life. In the area of online game research, he examines the mechanics of avatar-mediated interaction as well as shared player practices through screen-capture-video analysis and virtual ethnography. He has conducted video-based ethnographies in a variety of settings including massively multi-player online games, copy shops, and survey research call centers.

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Paffendorf Headshot“Mirror worlds … we’re going to find out an awful lot about ourselves and the way the world really works and we can track changes in the world visually, see where the information is coming from, where people are going, how changes in one place affect changes in another.”

Jerry Paffendorf is research director for the Acceleration Studies Foundation. Forward-looking writer, consultant, and project designer. Research interests include digital worlds, reality video games, the metaverse, mirror worlds, public authorship, searchable cities, and the emergence of mapspace.

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Poulin Headshot“(We’ll see) a vanishing interface that enables us to directly access the web or any information any virtual information directly without necessarily having a separate device that we actually have to access.”

Marty Poulin is senior programmer for SCE-RT Sony CEA and the former chief of technology development for Playnet. He has worked on vehicle design and manufacturing for the disabled and is co-coordinator for the World Interfacing group of IGDA’s Artificial Intelligence Interface Standards Committee (ASIIC). He is currently working with a team of other programmers to support and extend Sony’s SCE-RT online technology supporting numerous titles on the PS2/PSP/PS3 platforms including direct support of SOCOM2/3 and First Party NextGen titles.

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Smart Headshot “It’s the conversational interface … We’re going to be managing virtual people – nine-tenths of the people we’re talking to on the web will probably not be real people, they will be virtual digital assistants … Being able to speak to your computer … everything from that point forward will be different.”

John Smart, president of the Acceleration Studies Foundation, is a developmental systems theorist. He is president of the Acceleration Studies Foundation (http://Accelerating.org) a nonprofit community for research, education, consulting, and selected advocacy of communities and technologies of accelerating change. He co-produces the annual Accelerating Change Conference. He is a member of the Association of Professional Futurists, the FBI Futures Working Group, and on the editorial advisory board of Technological Forecasting and Social Change.

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Smith Headshot “The biotech revolution – we’re just beginning to see the tip of the iceberg on that one. That will permeate everything … fostering communication and collaboration with computers is a central task, central aspect of transformation in the future.”

David Smith, the principal architect currently developing Open Croquet is also CTO, for 3Dsolve. He’s been focused for 20 years on interactive 3D and using 3D as a basis for new user environments and entertainment. He created “The Colony,” the very first 3D interactive game and precursor to today’s “first-person shooters” like Quake. He co-founded Red Storm Entertainment with Tom Clancy, and Timeline Computer Entertainment with Michael Crichton. Croquet is the culmination of his work on 3D architectures for complex peer-to-peer environments.

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Verbeck Headshot“It’s very easy to point to human-like AI … If you had to pick one technology that represents the Singularity – the boundary after which we can’t really see what human civilization is going to be like – you’d almost surely pick that one over others … It’s only two or three at most decades off.”

Sibley Verbeck is founder and CEO of The Electric Sheep Company. A former chief scientist of StreamSage Inc. and Comcast Online, he is a leading researcher in advanced computational linguistic and statistical techniques for analyzing audio, video, and text. In 2003 he was selected as one of MIT Technology Review’s top 100 technology innovators worldwide under the age of 35. He has been an invited presenter at conferences ranging across Internet infrastructure, digital television, scientific publication, and undergraduate science education.

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Williamson Headshot “The ability to involve other senses than vision and hearing is really what would revolutionize social interaction as we know it over the network … touch and smell and the ability to use those other senses over the internet would absolutely revolutionize long-distance communication as we know it.”

Malcolm Williamson is a geospatial and visualization researcher with the Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies at the University of Arkansas. Since 1993 he has pursued research in geospatial applications and development and scientific visualization. He works closely with the EAST Initiative to develop new approaches in geospatial and visualization education, leading a team that supports 10,000+ students in approximately 240 schools.

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Zuckerman Headshot“The spread of the mobile phone … I’m (also) interested in the aggregation of filtering of content – how do you listen to six billion voices? Someone’s going to have to help you sort through it. I’m interested in translation, which is an enormous problem.”

Ethan Zuckerman, a research fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, specializes in ICT development. His work covers telecom policy, free and open-source software, and participatory media technologies. He is a co-founder of Global Voices (www.globalvoicesonine.org), a community of citizen journalists. He works with the Open Society Institute’s Information Program. He founded Geekcorps, a volunteer group that sent tech experts to work with ICT companies in the developing world. He is also the former CTO of Tripod.com.

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