Sunday, May 6, 2007

Second Life Leads to Genetic Engineering

Several years ago, I discovered a game at the local movie club for rent . . . Sim City. I hated most video games (and still do), but this one seemed intriguing . . . the chance to build your own fully functioning metropolitan area from the ground up. After playing it and its successors on Nintendo systems and the PC, I wondered aloud to myself one day . . . "Hmmm. Imagine if they came up with a 'sim life' -- where you could build a person, their day-to-day existence, their struggles and loves, etc."

And they did . . . no, I don't claim to have come up with the idea first, but one idea certainly begged the next, and apparently the logical conclusion wasn't lost on a few people at EA . . . and a few years later at Linden Labs.

So, after starting my fifth month into my chronic addiction of being a woman in Second Life, the same weird feeling comes over me. Why? Because nearly everyone I come across in SL wants to look like Barbie or a tag team from the WWF. Give anyone a magic wand -- and they seek to make improvements, and the virtual world of Second Life is doing that for millions of users. Sure, we see the cyber-geeks who write articles on the net about SL and who've tediously recreated their geekiness without succumbing to the latest skin offerings of RaC or Naughty Island. For those totally immersed in the experience like me -- you can't help but wonder -- seeing all the sexy gods and goddesses running around -- do even these net-nerds have sexy alts? They certainly aren't fooling me.

I keep an eye on news coming from the world of genetic research. There isn't a lot, and sometimes I miss the first run, but in the not-too-distant future (though possibly not in our lifetimes) the answers to many things will be unlocked. As we speak, there are teams looking into the keys of aging, to find out why some forms of life can live for hundreds of years (some tortoises) and other for thousands (some trees), while others are doomed after a few dozen (humans) or even a few weeks (mosquitos). Other things they're unlocking are the secrets to musculature -- they've found a way for mice to bulk up without lifting weights and without hormones -- but it also makes them docile, and the scientist involved are only interested in using it for patients with wasting disorders.

A few decades from now, civilization and economy providing, the genetic code will be completely unlocked, the secrets to healing the unhealable, growing the amputated, and restoring that which was near death is itself relatively near. And will it be used for just the sick and injured, the prematurely dying, or the patient with MS?

Sure . . . only as much as a surgeon's scalpel never touches the skin of of one wanting an elective reconstruction, as long as surgical suction device is never used to slurp up pre-pulverized fat cells out of someone too lazy to diet, and as long as the industry of medicine itself never takes money from or treats someone who doesn't need its services to continue living. This is a capitalist society, folks -- and when the bag of tricks come, so will the not-so-necessary procedures. Methinks this will be the only way to pay back the gargantuan R&D.

So, as in SL, the geeky shall grow into giants in real life, the flat-chested shall develop natural bosoms, and the envious shall acquire inches. The bald shall be bountiful and the old shall be ageless and the flat shall once again be filled to the brim. Oh, yeah and the deaf will hear again and all of that.

How do I know? Check out Second Life and see the future clientele of genetic-code vendors pay hand-over fist to have the body style of Brad Pitt or Kate Moss. There are reasons residents pay nearly as much money on looking sexy in SL as they for having sex in SL.

I just hope they figure it all out before Mother Nature calls me back into the ground. In case I'm deaf, blind and dumb from age . . . I'll go ahead and place my order now: I'd like to be a girl, so make me look exactly like Robin Wright Penn -- back in the Santa Barbara days. And, if there's too many of her running around (or if she's copywrited her gene-code), a Kristian Alfonso will do, except with a rack and without the requisite anorexia.

But -- you guys will be making the rules, so if I must be a guy, an Eric Bana (circa 2003) will do just nicely, and if that's who I end up looking like, just dump me in an empty apartment with plenty of aloe-based lubricant for about a year.

Believe me, I won't be coming out for a while.