The other night, I had an odd conversation with ChatGPT, made somewhat stranger because the AI’s answers came out of a humanoid rabbit idly sucking on a juice box. He was standing alone in a virtual novelty store in Second Life, where he had recently been fired. The rabbit, the shop owner explained to me later, was meant to be a clerk, “but he kept trying to sell items that were not for sale.” (AI, after all, has a tendency to make things up.) So the rabbit had been demoted to the role of greeter, chatting with customers about the nature of comedy, his own existence, or whatever else they cared to ask.
BunnyGPT is among the first bots in the virtual world to have its “mind” wired to OpenAI’s large language model. It’s an example of how Second Life, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary, continues to evolve, with a community that taps into new technologies for its own oddball purposes. Nothing else is quite like it—Second Life is neither exactly a social network nor really a conventional game, which has both limited its mainstream appeal and ensured its longevity. To this day, tens of thousands of people are logged in at any given time, inhabiting a digital world that’s more original than the corporate versions of virtual existence being offered by Meta and Apple.