The advent of the web implies certain changes to how we view nations. For example, we already have freelancers working over the web. And they can be anywhere. So currently freelancers have expanded job opportunities and employers have an expanded pool of talent. Currently, there is a free-market economy in the freelance world where employers take advantage of the disparity in wages determined by the home country of the worker. So intellectual work can be outsourced in the same way that manufacturing was outsourced.
So far all of this is pretty obvious but let’s start considering some future possibilities. If a person can work outside of their geographical borders why do we need worker visas? The visa is about a person being physically brought on board. And of course being paid more than they would be paid at home, of course, less than a registered alien or citizen. Will we start requiring virtual visas for web-based workers?
Also what is to stop the web workers from unionizing. And they can be anywhere and not necessarily easily intimidated. It’s not that difficult to envision a world where people belong to virtual nations based on skills. These virtual nations could police the web working world in the same way anonymous polices sites it doesn’t like.
But let’s move on from working, what about voting. Currently, we have absentee voting by mail.
The next logical step will be absentee voting over the web. How will we determine who has the right to vote? Even today geographic birth is not always the road to national citizenship.
Soon we will have virtual reality and on-line communities will become more “real”. Who will we complain to if the doctor in virtual space makes a mistake? Will we perhaps have some sort of entry requirement. And although we are willing to accept private forums and clubs, will we be willing to accept virtual nations?
And once the virtual world has all the attributes of the real world how will we distinguish between the two? Will a citizen of a virtual world nation also be a citizen of a real-world nation. What will dual nationality mean? In fact, it’s not difficult to imagine poly-nationality.
Let’s move forward in time and imagine lovers over the web. They inhabit a shared virtual world and desire to have a child. But they live in different geographic locations. We can posit that the male can donate his sperm and the sperm can be physically transported and the female partner can be inseminated. So the physical mother takes care of the child in the physical world, while in the virtual world both parents are there for the child. And what effect would being in a virtual world have on a baby? At what age will we introduce the baby to the virtual world?
Even today in the real world we have same-sex couples who use surrogate mothers to birth their genetic child. So what will happen in the virtual world? Transgender-ism is costly and requires a medical procedure in the physical world. But with haptic technology sexual manifestation is arbitrary. A man could be a virtual female and vice versa. We can even imagine a world where Joseph is a man on Mon, Wed, and Friday and is Josefina, a woman, on the other days of the week.
Romance could blossom in the virtual world. Two people who are soul mates would appear to each other as the other wanted them to look. A physically fat person will appear and live as a thin person. A disabled person could walk the virtual world with no regard to her physical disabilities.
This is not science fiction. It’s probably 5-10 years away.
How will you determine if an affair is immoral if it is with a virtual person? Will you keep your daughters virgins in the world when they can do and feel anything in the virtual world.
If I become angry enough I can strike out and assuming my virtual avatar is all that I am I could hurt someone or be hurt. For haptic technology to appear real how will I feel when I break my leg skiing? What will happen if I am murdered in the virtual world? What was science fiction is rapidly turning into reality.
And if you think all of this is just whistling in the wind be aware that we have had people today who have committed suicide because of bullying on the web.