It's been a while and the great threat of Copybot has come and gone, but there is another threat waiting in the wings which the Copybot investigation revealed to me.
When the Copybot fiasco occured in late 2006, many people became worried about things like intellectual property rights and theft. Ultimately, the reaction to Copybot caused more damage than the program itself, and the chat spam from the ineffectual Copybot Defeaters that could be found in nearly every store in Second Life for a month escalated the chat lag problem to new heights. However, the Copybot fiasco is over, and Copybot is not the threat I'm going to talk about today.
Copybot was created by a member of a group of coders working on creating an Open Source client for Second Life with the blessings and support of Linden Labs. As well as being able to copy objects and textures directly from the client, these programmers were able to create a stripped-down version of the Second Life client with a miniscule system footprint. A Second Life Bot.
The ability to create automated users in Second Life may not seem like a threat at first. It seems like a grand oppertunity. You could program your own store manager or a robot bartender for your club. You could sync up a group of robots to perform in-world plays. There are so many possibilities, but there is also a hidden threat.
First of all, Second Life has a cap on the number of users in a single simulator region. This cap is 40 in most sims, while private islands can increase the cap if they wish. Every robot will count toward that cap. Very soon it will be possible to shut off whole sims by logging in fourty robots at a time, without the large system footprint of the full Second Life client.
Second of all, several stores are already hiring players to sit on pose balls and demonstration objects while leaving their client AFK to act as models. This is a somewhat honest line of work in Second Life, but it will go the way of the Dodo when store owners can just run a few robots complete with mild interactive scripts that AFK players couldn't do. Worse yet, every one of those dress-up dolls will cost the sim one connection. With just a few stores that have three to five models each you'll cut the number of people actually able to visit those stores in half, not to mention people who live in the simulator!
This is my prediction of a critical threat in Second Life. I hope that I'm not the only one who sees this coming, and that the Lindens are already working on a plan to absorb the impact of Second Life Bots. In any case, heed my warning and don't contribute to the problem when it occurs.