The technological uses are the most obvious, and already being investigated by companies like IBM; Second Life is an ideal environment for large-scale data visualisation, for example.
Recent mainstream media stories have suggested that Second Life is a haven for terrorist recruitment and money laundering. While the potential is arguably present (and the actuality overstated), the flip-side is that virtual worlds provide a space where more positive forms of cultural exchange can occur – like a Muslim investigative journalist being able to experience a service in a virtual synagogue. [Image by RykerBeck]
The cynic in me suggests that we will export our human propensity for divisiveness wherever we go, be it into outer space or the inner space of the metaverse. But perhaps the lower barriers in virtual worlds will make it easier to overcome the old hatreds … by allowing us to see “behind the veil”, to coin a phrase.