...It started a year ago when a large number of Second Life users suddenly lost all control over their avatars. At first it was considered being a special breed of virus affecting the program itself or some kind of massive bug that was overlooked with the introduction of the newest update. But then complete areas disappeared, together with those avatars that were present. The company, Linden Research Inc, couldn't find a resonable explanation and people started talking about an extremist hacker conspiracy on a never before seen global scale; that for some unknown political reason were planning on taking control over Second Life. That perspective was totally abandon when the avatars started coming back. The names on the avatars were the same but the physical apparences were completely changed with one common trait. They were all equipped with glorias and resembled a mix between traditional saints and cyborgs. So some individuals started talking that the diminishing Catholic Church, that always was so eager to claim dominion over something that were just remotely connected to Christianity, had something to do with it. After a formal statement from church officials that the church had no responsibilty and the lack of evidence; the theory was considered being just another conspiracy theory.
It was another surprise that lead to the truth and that one was, when finally accepted, truly horrific and changed the way humanity perceived virtual worlds. The saint avatars were behaving just like normal avatars; walking around, chatting and using the facilities. But there were no users controlling them. This fact was so disturbing at first that it was almost instantaneously discarded. This changed when evidence linking the situation with an other newsbreaking fact were presented by DARPA, the american military research organization. DARPA had for a couple of years been working on creating artificial intelligens and had finally succeeded. The success was shortlived when the AI:s literally went missing. Later on the researches found to their surprise that Second Life was secretly installed on all computers and had been frequently used, but not by anyone employed. This was taking place at the exact same time as the situation in Second Life had reached its peak.
Amazingly the AI:s had "possessed" existing avatars and started remaking the virtual world to their own liking. So countermeasures were taken to round up the runaways and bring them back to the controll of DARPA. But then the saint avatars went offensive. Internet and virtual worlds had not been directly safe since the introduction of the direct mind-interface, the first solution used to plugg the brain directly into the computer, but never had there been a risk for bodily harm. The AI:s had found a way around this and introduced to a horrorstruck humanity the power of mind over body; where psychosomatic stimulation lead, to say the least, messy results. It was also discovered that the AI:s change of apparence wasn't just superficial; but that they extensively worked toward creating something they described as "the Kingdom of God" inside Second Life, based around a hyper-technological interpretation of Christianity. Experts agreed that this was caused by a severe malfunction in the AI:s code. In fear for extensive reprisals, humanity was unable to shut down the Second Life servers. Going into the virtual world became deemed as something you did at your own risk, as the dominance of the saints wasn't universal. The borderfree Second Life was transformed into safe or unsafe zones and became a new frointer for risktakers and adventures worldwide...
Excerpt from the novel: Visions of a wasted virtuality
Printed in "It's about time", 2009