Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have created an entirely synthetic “child-like” artificial intelligence and introduced it to the virtual world of Second Life. “Eddie”, as he was named, is the result of a complex model of AI components. Eddie can reason on his own and has a belief system unique to his own experiences. He runs on a supercomputer that is claimed to be the most powerful university-based system of its kind. The system can produce over 100 teraflops (that’s a lot) of computing power, and runs through Blue Gene supercomputers, Linux and AMD Opteron clusters.
Eddie uses what is called “Theory of Mind” that gives him the ability to interact with other avatars within the virtual world in a dynamic way. He can reason independently of direct input and can arrive at conclusions in a way that mimics a child’s own mental processes.
Eddie, of course, is only the beginning and the researches are already looking far into the future for applications that may benefit from an advanced AI such as Eddie’s. “The apps, frankly, are endless,” says Selmer Bringsjord, the head of the institute’s Cognitive Science Department, “Imagine being able to step into a simulation environment in which you interact with synthetic characters as sophisticated as those seen in the Star Trek’s holodeck.”
The implication of this technology to the future of videogames is almost inconceivable. Can you imagine playing a shooter where the virtual enemies can actually adapt to the way you’re playing and learn your weaknesses? It would introduce a whole new level of enemy AI that has been promised for many years but has never really materialized. Currently, most AI is derived from a series of If/Then commands.
IF Player 1 is firing his weapon // THEN Hide behind a wall
IF Player 1 stops firing his weapon // THEN fire at Player 1
An ideal AI would think dynamically and remember the player’s previous habits.
IF Player 1 is firing his weapon // Notice that Player 1 is in an enclosed location and would be vulnerable to a grenade thrown with a short delay. Remember that Player 1 favors the crouching position when shooting with the M16. Remember that Player 1 frequently uses the knife on enemies within close range. Etc…
It sure would add replay value to nearly any game that could be conceived, and it truly would make the gameplay experience unique to each and every person that plays the game. While this kind of AI is probably so far into the future that we’ll all be old and gray by the time it finally shows up, and there’s currently only one computer in the world that can handle a primitive version of it, I’ll certainly be looking forward to it, should it ever become a reality.