Kurzweil is right, but for all the wrong reasons. It’s not about engineering; it’s about economics. Human beings, as a social-technological species, seek to transact with each other to satisfy a variety of interconnected goals (social, psychological, sexual, commercial, technological political and economic). The more realistic virtual worlds become in portraying the complexity of human deportment – the more sophisticated the transactions – the more trustworthy and non-intrusive the transactional framework (property-rights structure) – then the more popular virtual worlds will become and the more economic activity will shift to them.
It is no surprise, therefore, that the primary demographic for virtual worlds is 25+. These are the people who have jobs, houses, cars – who are fully engaged in the complexities of economic life. 24- are the people living at home or in university dorms, playing games, dating, studying, clubbing, having fun. They are not yet independent economic agents.
Virtual worlds are currently built and managed by engineers. That’s the problem. It is akin to the days when computers were solely the province of engineers who saw the universe and all its complexity in terms of hardware and software. Therefore, give it ten years for virtual worlds to mature beyond the platform. These are the Model-T days of the industry. The future is the leather interior and sound system of a Ferrari.