Inside Second Life

Posted on April 30, 2007 

Inside Second Life

Inside Second Life

In the real world, Philip Rosedale is a thirty-eight-year-old with California Ken Doll good looks — peppery hair and bright blue eyes, faded jeans and a loose beige sweater. He sits at the Fog City Diner, a tiny shiny restaurant off the Embarcadero in San Francisco. But when he makes pronouncements about the other world, which is often, he leans forward, drops his voice to a biblical whisper, and widens his stare. “Once we have enough computing power,” he says, “we can remake the world using simulation.”

There are certain things you will only do in reality. Like eat tuna tartare, says Rosedale, who digs into a plate of the pink stuff in front of him. But just about everything else will happen in virtual reality. “The only thing I say to people who yearn for an earlier time,” says Rosedale, “is that you’re not going to have an opportunity to hide from this phenomenon.”

By middle school, his religious conviction shifted to a place where he could really be the ruler of his own universe: his computer. Rosedale had a life-altering epiphany one day when he was goofing around with math modeling programs on a friend’s PC. With a few strokes, he discovered, he could create simulations of the real-world inside his machine. “I remember just turning to my buddy, and saying, ‘It’s all in there!,’ ” he recalls. ” ‘This is like outer space!’ ” “God is in the machine,” as he now likes to say. “The Code is law. The Code is God.”

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