Code4Crime in Second Life
Second Life has been hailed as an upcoming platform to do product development and market research virtually. It occurred to me that we should apply this idea to one of the biggest themes of the 21st century, and have the Second Life 'verse support criminal activity.
You could then perform experiments or hold contests ("DARPA grand challenges") to come up with data collection schemes and data mining algorithms aimed at crime detection and prevention -- the kind of scary precrime/thoughtcrime/bigbrother stuff that keeps the EPIC folks up at night. The anti-crime approaches could be ranked or assessed for intrusiveness and impact on civil liberties -- something that matters more than a little for first-life viability.
Let's take a stab at solving one of the 21st century's thorniest balancing acts (crime fighting vs. civil liberties) in the fake world first. Make it opt-in, and subsidize the service cost for the participants.
The present-day alternative, having three-letter-agencies doing the experiments on us first-lifers, lacks the fun, lavishly-vc-funded, web2.0y elements (and judicial oversight) we've all come to know and love.