Linux, politics, and other interesting things
I just watched an interesting TED.com talk about video games . The talk focussed to a large degree on emotional involvement in games, so it seems likely that there will be many more virtual girlfriend services  (I’m not sure that “game” is the correct term for such things) in the future. The only reference I could find to a virtual boyfriend was a deleted Wikipedia page for V-Boy, but I expect that they will be developed soon enough. I wonder if such a service could be used by astronauts on long missions. An advantage of a virtual SO would be that there is no need to have a partner who is qualified, and if a human couple got divorced on the way to Mars then it could be a really long journey for everyone on the mission.
VR training has been used for a long time in the airline industry (if you have never visited an airline company and sat in a VR trainer for a heavy passenger jet then I strongly recommend that you do it). It seems that there are many other possible uses for this. The current prison system is widely regarded as a training ground for criminals, people who are sent to prison for minor crimes come out as hardened criminals. I wonder if a virtual environment for prisoners could do some good. Instead of prisoners having to deal with other prisoners they could deal with virtual characters who encourage normal social relationships, prisoners who didn’t want to meet other prisoners could be given the option of spending their entire sentence in “solitary confinement” with virtual characters, multi-player games, and Internet access if they behave well. Game systems such as the Nintendo Wii  would result in prisoners getting adequate exercise, so after being released from a VR prison it seems likely that the ex-con would be fitter, healthier, and better able to fit into normal society than most parolees. Finally it seems likely that someone who gets used to spending most all their spare time playing computer games will be less likely to commit crimes.
It seems to me that the potential for the use of virtual environments in schools is very similar to that of prisons, for similar reasons.
Update: Currently Google Adsense is showing picture adverts on this page for the “Shaiya” game, the pictures are of a female character wearing a bikini with the caption “your goddess awaits”. This might be evidence to support my point about virtual girlfriends.