Rep. Markey Makes a Virtual Appearance at a Virtual Bali

NPR's Scott Simon takes a moment to note that courtesy of the online platform Second Life, an avatar of U.S. Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) appeared at the Bali climate change meeting.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

Massachusetts Representative Ed Markey appeared this week at the Bali conference even though he was kept in Washington, D.C. because of congressional negotiations over the energy bill. The representative was represented in Indonesia by a computer-generated 3D, animated likeness called an avatar courtesy of the online platform Second Life. Mr. Markey delivered what's being built as the first international speech by a member of Congress in a virtual world.

And his wasn't the only avatar in attendance. There were computer copies from around the world in the audience. There were also flesh-and-blood people watching in real life. First Life, if you please. They were able to ask avatar Markey questions that were answered by human being Markey in a computer back in Washington. According to Climate Care, a British company that tracks traveled-related carbon dioxide, by not flying 20,000 miles of round trip from Washington to Bali, Representative Markey didn't generate 5.36 tons of CO2. I wonder if all the avatars went out afterwards for a virtual nightcap.

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