Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity is Near ( ) is one of those books that really changes the way you look at things.
For instance, when the Supreme Court rules on virtual child porn as it did recently ( ), you see that the real issue goes far beyond Photoshopping some kidpix. For those not following this case, it revolves around the so-called PROTECT Act which was designed as a delicate dance around pesky First Amendment Issues. The basic idea, which the men in black robes OK’d, is that it’s still illegal to deal in child porn if the seller thinks, or tricks the buyer into thinking, it’s real.
What the Act, and the justices, are basically saying: virtual reality versions of bad things are illegal if they are convincing enough .
Well, in the future, virtual reality versions of things will be very convincing. Kurzweil thinks the technology involved will be swarms of nanorobots forming objects before our very eyes, and even interacting directly with us . VR kiddie porn will be so convincing that no-one will ever need to molest real children, which one would think would thereby solve the real problem–the exploitation of children–and make everyone happy, I predict America will not be so easily deterred from its Puritan ethic in banning things it finds repgunant .