Virtual environments (VE) are human-computer interfaces in which the computer creates a sensory-immersing environment that interactively responds to and is controlled by the behaviour of the user. Since these technologies will continue to become more reliable, more resolute and more affordable, it's important to consider the advantages that VEs may offer to support business processes. The term 'synthetic world' refers to a subset of VEs, having a large virtual landscape and a set of rules that govern the interactions among participants. Currently, the primary motivators for participation in these synthetic worlds appear to be fun and novelty. As the novelty wears off, synthetic worlds will need to demonstrate a favourable value proposition if they are to survive. In particular, non-game-oriented worlds will need to facilitate business processes to a degree that exceeds their substantial costs for development and maintenance. Working Through Synthetic Worlds explores a variety of different tasks that might benefit by being performed within a synthetic world. The editors use a distinctive format for the book, consisting of a set of chapters composed of three parts: ¢ a story or vignette that describes work conducted within a synthetic world based loosely on the question, 'what will work be like in the year 2025?', founded on the expert authors' expectations of plausible future technologies ¢ a scholarly review of the technologies described by the stories and the current theories related to those technologies ¢ a prescription for future research required to bridge the current state-of-the-art with the notional worlds described in the stories. The book will appeal to undergraduate and graduate students, professors, scientists and engineers, managers in high-tech industries and software developers.
'This book charts a course for truly valuable, useful research and presents a future that will impact how we all "get things done" beyond mere games and social networks. The Internet initiated the journey; this book shows that the effective use of immersive worlds is the destination we've all been awaiting. Those who understand how to use virtual world technologies will succeed; those who do not are doomed to failure.' Dylan Schmorrow, Commander, Medical Service Corps, United States Navy
Contents: Foreword; Preface; An essay on the cognitive benefits of stories, C.A.P. Smith; Part 1 Forecasting: The future of the market research profession, Paul R. Messinger and Xin Ge; Synthetic worlds and financial services, Richard Brath, Mike Peters, Joseph MacInnes and William Wright; A day at a 3D datacenter, Michael Osias, Joan L. Mitchell, Donna Eng Dillenberger, David Ward and Sandra K. Johnson; Hypothesis-testing in a biological cartographic virtual world, John W. Bodnar, Russ Vane and Brian Rogers; System dynamics and synthetic worlds, Warren Tignor; Analytical world environments, Vadim Slavin, Randy Stiles and Thomas Trinko. Part 2 Forensic Analysis: Smart, collaborative workspaces in the information ecology, John Miller, Greg Nuyens, John Light and Cynthia Pickering; Synthetic worlds in national security policymaking, Ed Waltz; Synthetic worlds for intelligence analysis, Jeffrey G. Morrison, Kenneth W. Kisiel and John DeBello; Augmented reality tools for enhanced forensics simulations and crime scene analysis, Robert Rice. Part 3 Cognitive Amplifiers: Synthetic worlds for on-demand experience, Kenneth W. Kisiel; Synthetic worlds and characters, and the future of creative writing, Selmer Bringsjord and Alexander Bringsjord; Virtual rehabilitation: synthetic worlds to address disabilities, Maria T. Schultheis, Lisa K. Simone and Ana C. Merzagorra; Use of a synthetic world for negotiation and consensus building, Diana Burley. Part 4 Training: A day in the life of Airman Basic Smith, Peter Garretson and Nathan T. Denny; Mirror Man: a speculative case study of the synergetic potential of data visualization and virtual worlds, Ben Goertzel; Turing, androids and a travel holiday: a futuristic view of synthetic worlds, Robert Cox, Patricia Crowther and John Campbell; The cognitive playground: fostering critical and creative thinking with synthetic worlds, Judi McCuaig, Joe MacInnes and William Wright. Part 5 Infrastructure: A day in the life of a usability engineer, Theresa A. O'Connell, Elizabeth D. Murphy and Renate Roske-Shelton; InfoSec in synthetic worlds: historical perspectives from MOs, MUDs and MMOGs, Jeffrey M. Stanton; Index.