I’ve been fascinated for a long time by the potential implicit in the combination of artificial general intelligence and video games. If an AI is going to be even vaguely humanlike, it needs some kind of body, and there are two ways to supply that right now: robots or animated characters. Robotics is an important direction that I’m also experimenting with, but game characters have a lot of advantages too. They’re easier to work with; the commercial potential is explosive; and the same AI mind can easily learn from millions of human game-players at once, as they sit at home interacting with the AI characters in a game.
My company Novamente LLC made some efforts in this direction a few years ago, when we collaborated with The Electric Sheep Company to make an intelligent virtual-world dog. Now we’re taking the next step, in a 2-year, 6-programmer project hosted in Gino Yu’s lab at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, focused on the use of the OpenCog open-source AI toolkit to create intelligent humanoid video game characters — characters that can hold simple English conversations, understand human emotions, and learn from experience.
The characters will take various forms — one of them may be AI elves living at the North Pole, playing with various virtual toys in their digital Santa’s workshop. If all goes well, after the two year research project ends, it will be followed up by a larger project focused on rolling out the technology into commercial games – providing the next generation of AI learning systems with a huge population of eager teachers.
And if you want to hear more about this and a lot of other futurist projects, ideas and technologies, be sure to come to my talk at the Humanity+ @ CalTech conference Dec 4-5 2010… or if you can’t do that, at least catch the live-streaming video of the conference at http://humanityplus.org ….