Two interesting but totally unrelated pieces of information:
1. For the academically inclined, the Virtually Blind blog has an excellent piece on virtual law enforcement with a link to the paper written by a Dutch Assistant Professor at the University of Leiden, Bart Schermer. It’s a fascinating read best summed up in Schermer’s own words:
From this article we may conclude that in order to combat cheating and crime in virtual worlds, ‘artiﬁcial police agents’ may be employed. As of yet, these systems are not very advanced and can be used mainly to assist human beings in governing virtual worlds. However, as we move closer to the vision of strong artiﬁcial intelligence, more advanced software agents may be employed to combat crime in virtual worlds. When these intelligent systems arrive we must ensure that the legal basis for their use is codiﬁed within the law of criminal procedure.
To date media coverage of law enforcement has been about controlling the spread of real-life legal issues in the virtual sphere. There’s a much wider view that needs to be taken including virtual world-specific legal issues.
2. The ability for an avatar’s mouth / lips to sync with their speech has been something sought for years and there’s some light on the horizon on the Second Life front. Massively’s Tateru Nino has been trawling Second Life’s horrific development database cum bug-tracker to discover lip sync is on the way. I’d be doubtful it’ll deliver anything particularly realistic but it’s at least a start.