Some time ago, during an earlier period of exuberance and bubbling in the stock market, friends and I were commenting on the web-business ideas that were getting funded and companies purchased. ‘Outrageous’ seemed to be the common characteristic, so we followed our natural inclinations and came up with the most cynical businesses we could think of.
All of those have been done in several variations, e.g. my friend’s idea for a “confessions” web site, where people compete in the evilness of the sins they confess to.*
All except for my own idea, ‘Bunny Bangers’, which I have only seen once. (They used a different name, can’t find it now.)
Despite the great-for-outrage name, Bunny Bangers was to be a fairly innocent ‘shoot the fluffy bunny rabbit’ network service, designed, of course, to allow city people to experience the thrill of hunting and killing their own food. And for shut-ins, older people who can no longer hunt, disabled, poor inner city people who would otherwise never be able to experience the thrill of hunting and shooting, … Real humanitarian, I thought.
Typical first-person-shooter game, sighting through the rifle-scope on their computer screen with the arrow keys, they tap the space bar to shoot the fluffy bunny hopping around the big field, every once in a while we disable all the guns, go and collect the dead rabbits, dress, freeze and ship the carcasses to the shooters. Choice of guns at different costs. At extra cost, the tanned hide will follow. Taxidermy, if they would like.
Indeed, the idea generated outrage and a lot of publicity when done by some other cynical person, hard to understand why they disappeared. Although I don’t recall them emphasizing the humanitarian aspects or the ethical superiority of shooting a rabbit raised in a cage for food, just after it was released into ‘the wild’, no doubt in fear of its life but incompetent to protect it.** As compared to shooting a wild animal, part of the natural world we should be reverent about.
The software and equipment is not difficult : webcams + riflescopes are easy enough. The remote control of aiming rifles is standard tech, cops have them, it is just stepper motors. Any shop tinkerer and embedded systems guy could have that working in a week, part-time, and an on-line game programmer the rest in not much longer.
The idea generalizes to larger game animals, of course, although new problems arise, ones of trust. Because larger and more desirable game is rare, there will be a constant temptation for the operators of the service to cheat, to sell the same trigger-pull to more than one trigger-puller looking for the thrill of the kill.
That is easily done, as the operators control the image delivered through the remote ‘rifle scope sight picture’ on the remote computer, and the trigger-pull from their game controller/keyboard is merely an electronic signal translated by layers of software through internet packets to the 5-volt output on I/O pins connected to the switch connecting battery and solenoid that actually pulls the trigger.
Thus, it would be easy, with the usual mix of social engineering and software and internet latency jitter that characterize our nearly-virtual worlds, to make sure all of the aspiring hunters pull their triggers at nearly the same moment, and believe that they did it, receiving all of the thrill one can experience from online interactions — considerable, from the evidence. From one pov, that isn’t even unethical, they all got the thrill they paid for, although they all can’t get the pelt. Can handle that by making it a separate auction.
One problem with the technology is, it could be mis-used to extents only limited by the imaginations of the smartest, most knowledgeable and most imaginative people. For example, there is no reason the image ‘through the riflescope’ delivered to their screen has anything to do with an actual rifle scope — images can be synthesized in many ways for many reasons. Space bars can activate any trigger. Worse, anyone could claim to run such a service against any kind of target, all that is required is an internet connection, some software, a weapon, the weapon aiming and firing mechanism and controller, and a place from which to point it. It disconnects the seller of the service from the placer of the hardware and them and the trigger-puller from the target, completely and securely.
Who really owns that elephant? Any wild animal park with overlooks from outside would have to take security precautions, e.g. painting their name on the sides of the animals.
I can’t see any other issues worth mentioning. None of my friends see any, either.
*You can judge from these how evil we all really are. If we had had the foresight to put up a recruiting site for Jihadis we would be rich from subscriptions from the many informants to the LEA’s of the world.
**The cost of feeding the hawks and eagles may have been the reason the business no longer exists? So put this one on a wind farm.
***For all of you wise people out there who will want to tell me not to make it easier to kill things, innocent creatures or not, I could not agree more, the consequences are too awful to contemplate. But being prepared in thought and deed has never hurt, sometimes gives the wise and sane an edge in an opponent’s internal debate. That is what we are playing against, here in the III%-helpful corps.