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Introducing ReachBot

July 29, 2009 by reacher · Leave a Comment 

For the past couple of months, Reach Isles has been investigating the possible use of “Bots” in SL to help manage our growing estate. The goal of this post is to explain more about what Bots are, and what we plan to use them for.

Introduction to Bots

If you’re not sure what Bots are, take a look at this knowledgebase article. Though in reading that, there’s still allot about Bots that isn’t explained. Bots are avatars, just like yours, but they don’t use a graphical viewer like you do to access Second Life. Rather, they are driven by computer programs. While you navigate your avatar through the world using mouse clicks and keyboard taps, and receive input through the 3d display shown on your computer screen, a Bot navigates based on what the computer programs we write tell it to do, and receives input back through a byte stream, that the programmer in turn can write more code to make sense of.

The most well known Bots in SL are CopyBots whose goal is to copy textures, prims, and other content in world for storage offline, or “Land Bots”, who cruise around the Mainland looking to automatically buy land parcels set below a certain price threshold. But these are only the uses that get allot of press; Bots can be programmed to do allot more. In fact, the programming interface allows the Bot to do anything that you can with your viewer, and even some things that you can’t do.

To make it clear, programming a Bot is not the same thing as writing LSL code in-world (aka “scripting”). When you script in world, you are essentially operating in a sandbox; you have a limited subset of tasks that you have access to. You can’t for example, browse through your inventory, or change the permissions on a prim. In contrast, the Bot is programmed outside of Second Life, and “logs in” to the world to accomplish work, just as you do with your viewer. The Bot programming interface is much more advanced, being based on Microsoft’s .NET framework.

The ReachBots

So what do we plan to use Bots for? In short, to automate some of the time-consuming, repetitive, boring, or error-prone tasks that are necessary in running a large estate like ours. Running a large estate is more complex than most realize, and definitely requires the nuances of human intelligence to do it efficiently and correctly. By the same token, there’s allot of “busy work” too that would be better to automate, so that our human Estate Managers can concentrate on more interesting tasks. Some examples of things we are (or soon will be) using Bots for:

  • Visiting our more than 100 sims on a frequent basis to check for anomalies, such as poor sim performance, which might require further investigation by an Estate Manager.
  • Checking our sims for abandoned parcels, and parcels which have a different owner than we have on record, as, often we are not informed when a parcel is sold, changes hands, or is abandoned.
  • Finding parcels which have dangerous options enabled, such as Edit Terrain, which allows anyone in SL to terraform your land. This is often abused by griefers and can result in your objects being returned to your lost and found folder.
  • More efficient group management – automating the process of group invites and removals as parcels change hands.

All these things are nearly impossible for humans to do frequently, without going totally batty. Which is fine, as Bots never complain, and never get bored. ;)

The offical ReachBot avatars

So that you can be clear which avatars are operated by us, and which aren’t, at present we have only two avatars that we use for Bot purposes:

  1. ReachBot Unplugged
  2. ReachBot Monitor

We will soon be adding these names to the top of our covenants, so that if you have any doubt about the authenticity of an avatar you encounter in our estate, you can easily verify that.

What ReachBot is not

Our use of Bots isn’t intended to impede on your privacy in any way. No data is collected about your activities on the sims, nor conversations monitored, or anything of the like. The bots will simply zoom in and out, at an altitude much higher than you would normally be, to perform tasks that we have always done as humans, just more quickly and more effeciently.

As always, please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

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