The U.S. intelligence community has taken some flak lately for infiltrating online games, such as Second Life and World of Warcraft. A just-released report commissioned by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, however, posits that the technology could be abused by extremists.
“Imagine that jihadist supporters create a detailed avatar of Usama bin Ladin and use his voice and many recordings to animate the avatar for up-close, virtual reality experiences that could be used to preach, convert, recruit and propagate dogma to the media,” warns the report entitled "3-D Cyberspace Spillover: Where Virtual Worlds Get Real." “The bin Laden avatar could preach and issue new fatwas for hundreds of years to come, as the fidelity of his likeness would be entirely believable and animated in new ways to keep him current and fresh. In effect, anyone could become a 3-D virtual immortal and live on in cyberspace forever.”
Furthermore, the bin Ladin avatar could appear in Washington, D.C., the report theorizes. “Jihadist sympathizers could gather on the Capital Mall wearing iGlasses as they conduct a virtual meeting that overlays an avatar of Usama bin Ladin on the real-world steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Their reality, their world, their hate—all reinforced by the blending of the virtual and real worlds.”
The formerly classified report was released in response to a Freedom of Information request from the Federation of American Scientists.