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By Fiona Czerniawska, Gavin Potter (auth.)

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By Fiona Czerniawska, Gavin Potter (auth.)

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After all, many more things are possible in the virtual world than in the physical world. The myth of the physical The development of robots is an apt illustration of this myth. Since the turn of the century, creating a robot that can perform even basic human tasks has been one of our dreams, a close second, perhaps, to putting a man on the moon. Indeed, the human being has always been the standard against which we judge our technological process. When Alan Turing devised the first test for artificial intelligence in the 1940s, he suggested that a computer and a human should be put on one side of a screen and another human being should be on the other; the latter was to be asked to distinguish, based on a series of responses, which – on the other side of the screen – was the human and which the computer.

The myth of the physical The development of robots is an apt illustration of this myth. Since the turn of the century, creating a robot that can perform even basic human tasks has been one of our dreams, a close second, perhaps, to putting a man on the moon. Indeed, the human being has always been the standard against which we judge our technological process. When Alan Turing devised the first test for artificial intelligence in the 1940s, he suggested that a computer and a human should be put on one side of a screen and another human being should be on the other; the latter was to be asked to distinguish, based on a series of responses, which – on the other side of the screen – was the human and which the computer.

But the virtual economy is a great leveller: the costs of setting up a website are so low that there is nothing to stop an individual having a larger, more impressive site than a large corporation (indeed, this is often the case, as the latter find it difficult to reconfigure their conventional approach to marketing to the more interactive environment of the Internet). Of course, this can be bad as well as good for consumers; 36 BUSINESS IN A VIRTUAL WORLD although they have much more choice, they no longer have access to familiar benchmarks of whether the company they are dealing with is reliable (an office, real people and so on).

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