November 4, 2012
One of the things that fascinates me about Second Life and Open Sim is the amount of immersion I get out of it. The better graphics and customizable avatars of the Elder Scrolls series still do not have the same effect on me. And I’ve written quite an amount of posts about my avatars and how they affect me in reverse.
I think nearly everyone would like to be able to change your flesh avatar more easily. Yet recently I came aross a more then likely fake story of a Chinese man who sued his (now ex-) wife for not telling him that she is “genetically” ugly and thus passing those genes along to their child. He only knew her as beautiful woman, but she did, unbeknown to him, have expensive surgeries costing a lot of dollards in the five digits mark to get there.
Yet what wasin fact real were some photos they used to illustrate the story, misleadingly leaving the source open so that you thought it was the woman in question…
… when it actually were the pictures from a private clinic that show what can be done:
She actually “only” had two things done: Tightening of the sagging eyelids and a complete remodeling of her chin. (The change in skin complexion I attribute to makeup and lighting) and I don’t think it was as expansive as the operation of the women in the story. But if it was the major part of the cost lies in the modelling of the chin. To do this they have to create an implant that is biocompatible, attaches perfectly to the smaller, “old” one and is formed perfectly. Oh, and there is the big question how they got it in place without a visible scar, but I think there are techniques that do it from inside the mouth, I once had contact with a pioneer of these technique, Douglas Ousterhout. He is also a pioneer of craniofacial surgery which is about the remodeling of the forehead. I think its pretty obvious were the torture part comes in, operations of these kind are very painful and the healing takes months. But where do the prims come into it?
Well, there is another emerging technology I’m very fascinated with, and that is 3D printing. And while the most you can read about it is about the progress of 3D printing in the home it actually gets more and more used in medicine. while things like “printing” vaccines on the fly or printing complete organs are researched and not that far away, printing bones is actually here and thus we come full circle – theoretically you can design your facial structure (only parts of the shape in SL terms) in a 3D program, print them, and have a surgeon implant them. Voila … you can torture meshes (ok not prims) and yourself to edit your face. With progress in tissue printing one day it might even be possible to print and “apply” a lot more changes, maybe even without the “torturing yourself” part.
Note: This post was written from a perspective that some might assume is a bit cynical. This technology is developed for people who actually need reconstructive surgery and not to make bodies more customizable, but not only does one come inevitable with the other I think the need for beauty and youth makes a strong financial background for the implementation of technology like that. To use an analogy: If mobile phones were only capable of emergency calls, they would not be as common as they are now, and the chance you have someone near you with one in case of emergency would be very low.