Clones Pwnd?

by prokofy on 12/11/06 at 1:51 am

By Prokofy Neva, Dept. of Stepford Wives, Trumansville, and Crop Circles


The other night I’m rattling around Juanita at the Flamingo Court/Motel of Last Resort taking the names out of the “locked” doors of all those customers who stay with us such a short time (hehe), when I get an offline email out of the blue from some guy I don’t know telling me the following:

“In yet another attack against intellectual property rights–just got word that those ‘libsecondlife’ people and sheep have an avatar named RON HUBBARD that creates itself as identical to the avatar next to it.”

Weathered in the ways of Second Life, where reporters are constantly set up with fake stories (it’s like the fraud on Eve!), my eyes narrow to a suspicious slit. I take a long drag on my Superior LupineFox ciggie and exhale in rings of contemplation. Hmmm. This seemed to be a claim that the Electric Sheep Company with the assistance of the reverse engineering group called libsecondlife had made some kinda thingie that was going to threaten copyright.

“You sound like a provocateur, dude,” I replied, and thought no more of it. But then….

…he contacts me again and this time writes in alarm,

“Open sourcers libsecondlife have shut down Hooper and Bonnydoon with over 30 avatars named “Mannequin ___” get this scoop as these known griefers shut down sl. This is real.”

I look in the list — and whoooah there are a boatload of Mannequins as the first name of bunches of new-named avatars.

And get this! They’re all born on November 7 — which those of us who follow RL communism and the Soviet Union know as Revolution Day, the day they used to roll out the tank parade on Red Square, and Brezhnev and the subsequent ailing and drunken Soviet leaders, kept alive on monkey glands, would be propped up in the cold on top of Lenin’s tomb.

My mysterious interlocutor writes again,

“Nobody knows what is going on with this group, it’s called a “bot,” he explains. They also have one named “Ron Hubbard,” he adds, ” that grabs your appearance and clothes when you touch it.

I took another long drag on my Lupine.

“Definitely a set up, and fake, fake, fake,” I said to myself — but I did take the trouble to TP out to Bonnydoon. All was clear in the moonlight. No green dots, or red square showing a crashed sim.

I think nothing of it…until a *second* source contacts me a few days later and says something very similar. That is, on Friday, I have my usual discussion at the Sutherland Dam about Land & Economy, and there are more new W-Hat/v-5 alts than usual, and I’m clicking and ejecting them, when one who has long been around them and in libsecondlife as well, IM’s me complaining that I ejected him for event griefing (he’s been a frequent flyer) and he says,

“Well, then I won’t tell you about the wonderful new prim copying technology in libsl. That’s cool.”

So several things follow from all this. They could be setting me up to publish something false, and make me look stupid — hence my decision to publish it : ) YOU decide lol!

Or they could be bragging about some experiment that they may claim is about trying to close off holes in SL, but in fact may open them for some.

I flew out to BonnyDoon today and didn’t see anything odd. I chatted with a shop-keeper who told me that wierd science-fiction stuff did happen in the sim — but then, it was SL. What isn’t wierd in SL? He pointed to a guy next door who had made this amazing replica of SL land in a kind of geodesic dome.

He pulled out of inventory this tree stump, that when you click on it, it just starts growing and adding branches and filling up your whole sim if you let it. It was neat.


I didn’t see any Sheep named Dolly so after clicking here and there in BonnyDoon and Hooper, I went back to work. I’ve come to see that what cheers the libsecondlifers and hatters and whatnot is the feeling that they can have power over other people — make them squirm, make them worry about their art, make them feel they may suffer.

The fact is, this is the future of our future. We live so much in the present tense of SL that we forget it’s the future for most people, and because we think we are such early birds already in the future, why, we already know everything about what the future is.

But we don’t. Most likely, land values and intellectual property as we knew it in our clutchy meatsack world, with all its wants and needs for “recognition” and “copyright” and “money” will fall away like so much burnt ember once we’re all fired up on the Metaverse.

The Metaverse will just be about copying lots of stuff and moving it hither and yon. Why wouldn’t it be? I mean, there can’t be barriers and silly concepts like “your inventory” or “my inventory” or “your creation” or “the requirement that I pay you for that object”. Information wants to be free. And so does stuff and land and your clothes.

So it makes perfect sense that engineers, especially of the reverse variety, who inevitably care more about process than commodity, will copy everything and paste it all over, especially — eventually — in places where it’s just better than Second Life is.

Sure, it sounds scary if a creepy avatar named Ron Hubbard touches you and copies your expensive look, but then isn’t that just tough titties? I mean, you’re on the Internet, where everything is copyable and not locked down a whole bunch. Someone will come along and create the equivalent of those things on jpegs now on some websites that say, when you right-click on them, “You are not authorized to copy this” but they may take awhile.

Basically, you have a situation that even a non-tekkie can understand: if the Lindens can make and keep copies of everything, so can anybody. But there’s more to it than just copying.

Flouncy dresses, flashing swords, mansions — these aren’t objects and commodities as all the programmers love to tell us, but features of their software. Now you see a tree. Now you don’t!

And that means virtual things are more like events than things. They are created, appear, rise, and set as you log on and log off. Do you ever look at that TV movie you saw in RL again…well…EVERY time? You don’t go back and read last month’s newspaper. Nor did you ever really wear that Second Life gown again, did you? It sits in inventory, clogging up the asset server. All of SL is ephemera; all of it is eterntally new. It flows.

Hardline Marxists love to quote Proudhon’s “All property is theft.”

In the dystopian world of the future Metaverse, concepts like “my property” or “my design” are all going to be turned on their ear. Big companies will hire designers and programmers not for their discrete IP and making of discrete things to be re-sold in some kind of “market,”, but will hire them for their capacity to create major, compelling events at grid coordinates that people come to — and then move on to the next thing. The props for that stage-set might even be handed out that day after the big show to the audience, without any fussing over “IP”, because to keep the audience, the flitting mob, the creators will have to make something new — again and again and again.

They will be valued not for creating a static thing that grows in value with preservation or resale, but for creating flowing events brand-new every single day as the synthetic sun rises four times on the artificial horizon.

UPDATE 11/11/06

Just got another tip that SuezanneC Baskverille has posted some screenshots on of the clone-maker cloning her avatar — and Aimee and Hamlet don’t escape the treatment.

She also published an interesting little editorial about activities on Hooper:

“Gridcrashers Plastic and Disco Duck in SL again, thanks to Baba Yamamoto. These are just prims with some some llSetText floating atop them, not real avatars with people behind them. Intended as a joke, I assume, but given that this display following a lengthy down time for the Hooper sim that apparently resulted from LibSL activity, it doesn’t show very good taste or judgement. The down time for the Hooper sim caused problems for the other land owners in Hooper. I doubt they find the joke real funny. The LibSL crew might want to consider trying to present a positive image instead of making themselves look like troublemakers for no good reason.”

SuezanneC has a photo titled, “Ron the clonebot copying Howie Lament copying Philip Linden”.

Here’s the obligatory Youtube as well — pretty creepy.

21 Responses to “Clones Pwnd?”

  1. Ander Frobozz

    Nov 12th, 2006

    I am an artist and I make and sell art in Second Life. Should I be frightened by the implications here? Hmm, what’s the point really? Even if they could copy things, there are so many things in SL that copying a few wouldn’t make a scratch while. And even then it’s a few guys getting free stuff it’s not like they can distribute copies like the Lindens dropping a pair of jeans in the library inventory. I guess they could sell the mechanism, but then why not use it to make copies of itself? Anyway, I bet these libsheep or whoever couldn’t copy a blank piece of paper with a one button scanner.

  2. nimrod yaffle

    Nov 12th, 2006

    You don’t even have to touch it for it to copy you, check my link.

  3. Ander Frobozz

    Nov 12th, 2006

    well, even if that isn’t a complete hoax Nimrod, I guess I’m safe. I don’t think I’d care much if someone could clone my looks. Maybe it woud be bad if they could clone my name as well. I guess if I was making Lindens off of selling skins, clothes and hair I might be a little worried. They should figure out how to clone Lindens then, when the economy crashes, maybe the commercial companies will go away.

  4. Urizenus

    Nov 12th, 2006

    I like that destroy TV was on hand when they made that video.

    She works so hard!

  5. nimrod yaffle

    Nov 12th, 2006

    Why doesn’t attachments work on yours? Dirty did it to me and he got my attachments and all!

  6. Prokofy Neva

    Nov 12th, 2006

    >I like that destroy TV was on hand when they made that video.
    She works so hard!

    No accident, comrade, Desire doesn’t just wander over to Hooper “just ilke that”. The Sheep put her there because they’re in on it.

  7. Prokofy Neva

    Nov 12th, 2006

    *oops I didn’t mean to use Pix’s pet nickname for her (*blushes*). Her name is DESTROY TV not DESIRE TV. I’ve just gotten into the habit of calling her that little sweet name because those mean boys at ESC gave her such a nasty name we replaced it : )

  8. I think of the Iggy and the Stooges every time I hear that name.

  9. Ace Albion

    Nov 12th, 2006

    nimrod- it was aaages ago :) (ok five days)

  10. nimrod yaffle

    Nov 12th, 2006

    “The Sheep put her there because they’re in on it.”

    Prok, why do you make everything sound like a conspiracy against you?

  11. Nacon

    Nov 13th, 2006

    because prok got a big mouth (big hands, whatever). :P

  12. Prokofy Neva

    Nov 13th, 2006

    It’s not a conspiracy against me, it’s not even a conspiracy, it’s a report: the Sheep put here there because they’re in on the clone thing.

  13. John Hurliman

    Nov 13th, 2006

    Prokofy: What do you mean ESC was “in” on it? They keep an ear to the ground and are very aware of what’s going on in Second Life, and have known about the progress of libsecondlife for a long time now. There are currently no Electric Sheep Company employees contributing code to libsecondlife though, only one member is even officially affiliated and he hasn’t contributed any code.

  14. Cocoanut Koala

    Nov 13th, 2006

    OK, from reading a transcript of the group of “Second Life Sellers” that was posted on SC, I gather the following things:

    1. Stroker Serpentine leads the Second Life Sellers group, and certainly gave them a clear and lengthy briefing of how they are supposed to accept the copy-bot.

    2. Which was, after all, made by his “close friend” Baba Yamamoto.

    3. It is their view that, rather than keeping such discoveries as a copying bot to themselves, it is better to go ahead and offer it for free to everyone because

    4. locks only keep honest people out anyway. (an absurd notion)

    5. To combat this, content creators ought to just put that item on sale for $1 and come out with a NEW item.

    Lindens are apparently sanctioning this group (and I think Lindens are actually in it).

    God forbid Baba or Stroker should ever think there might be anything besides code as law, such as ACTUAL law which would make it against the rules to freely distribute a cheat mechanism in the first place.


  15. Kittyhawk Zeta

    Nov 14th, 2006

    In the Linden’s defense, I suggest they just don’t know how to get the cat back into the bag. They don’t have the money to recode everything, encripting takes extra bandwindth and Second Life chugs whenever 5 people are in the same room allready and they are really focused on trying to become if not profitable then at least not burning cash at the same rate as before. (Why else cancel all the teachers?)

  16. Jesrad

    Nov 14th, 2006

    There is nothing LL can do. Lemme explain: the information that “mean” the 3D shape, texture, position and rotation, etc… goes to the other resident’s computer so it can be displayed by his or her client. This is an absolute requirement for SL to function, and it implies that any software running on this computer can receive and duplicate and otherwise manipulate that information.

    In a few words, anything that you can see and hear in SL can, and will, be duplicated. This is inevitable.

    Now, what people generally think when they hear that “anything in SL can be stolen ZOMFG!” is that no one will be able to make money off work in SL.

    I call utter bullshit on this.

    What happens is that prims, textures, sounds, animations and videos in SL are becoming public domain, sooner or later. It doesn’t mean that work in SL has lost “value”. In fact, I think that this value so far was usurped. Artificial scarcity of information has no justification outside of flawed utilitarist arguments. Besides, scripting isn’t threatened in any way by this, and nor is land business.

    When I started tooling around, building and scripting in SL, I had to face the fact that I would not be able to change the way things were. So I started making open source scripts, but everything else I made had to be set either no copy, or no transfer, because of the very reasons that make me want to set them full perm: preventing further restriction of rights down the distribution chain.

    Imagine if everyone can take full perm copies of everything they stumble upon in SL. It destroys a form of business, but also destroys any hope of profiting from “stealing”, so firstly, it solves my problem; secondly, it allows new forms of content business. For example, I can easily move to a “pull” model where people who know my works can evaluate my capabilities and “bet” on future realisations. Let’s say Goreans pool some of their L$ so I make a public domain Sleen: I get paid up to an amount that exceeds how much I value my time spent making the Sleen, while everyone else gets a Sleen for less than what they value having it. As a bonus, anyone else can also get one. There you have it: work in SL still has value.

    Prok is right here when stating that this is the future: for one, this is already happening in the immaterial business. The move to open source software that even Microsoft has given up fighting against is nothing more than the transition to the model I have detailed above. But it might also be coming in the material world when more and more commodities become cheaper than what finding a customer for it would cost. But that’s more speculation than economics.

  17. Prokofy Neva

    Nov 14th, 2006

    When I describe this future, I do not endorse it.

    Indeed, I could hardly endorse something that is communist ideology delivered by Bolshevik means.

    Yes, it will have an impact on RL.

    Sooner or later, people do have to pay. People amazingly find ways to value and pay each other even within communist systems that constantly steal their labour and products and constantly dehumanize them. They dig a little plot of land separate from the state collective farm where everything is free, where “we pretend to work and they pretend to pay us,” and lo and behold, they produce more crops than the impoverished state farm where everyone steals, the state steals, and nobody works (that’s where free culture leads you).

    That little bit of potato and cabbage they produce on their little kitchen garden plot then goes on to become an estimated 30 percent of their food supply — it’s amazing what people will do when they have to, and they need to find a way.

    People will go on finding ways to value land, value each others time and products, and conduct commerce outside the Lindens communistic clutches.

    At the same time, as always communism will reward oligarchs first and foremost. So these big corporations that can pay $30,000 US for a press conference consisting of a cement stadium and a texture with a logo on a flat island will keep afloat a band of artists and programmers and hangers on and maybe even supply welfare in the form of homes or land just to keep the traffic up.

    History has also shown that when socialism and communism devalue labour and products and people in this way, it isn’t long before life itself becomes worthless and mass numbers of people are murdered. It is a historical pattern.

  18. Jesrad

    Nov 15th, 2006

    The other thing to note is that the money that is (temporarily, since new models will arise anyway) not spent there will be spent on the unaffected businesses of SL, land and scripting for the most part.

  19. Prokofy Neva

    Apr 21st, 2007

    Just taking care of some final business here:

    The “second source” for this quote below from my first story about the infamous CopyBot was Jesse Malthus:

    “I think nothing of it…until a *second* source contacts me a few days later and says something very similar. That is, on Friday, I have my usual discussion at the Sutherland Dam about Land & Economy, and there are more new W-Hat/v-5 alts than usual, and I’m clicking and ejecting them, when one who has long been around them and in libsecondlife as well, IM’s me complaining that I ejected him for event griefing (he’s been a frequent flyer) and he says,

    “Well, then I won’t tell you about the wonderful new prim copying technology in libsl. That’s cool.”

    He was very excited about the cool new technology and bursting to tell me about it.

    Later, he chastised me on my blog for not crediting him as the “second source”.

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