Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Making Love To The Machine

[This is more of a subset to a post that's now up on GameTopius.]

In a very dry commentary involving the Hal 9000, I was brought back to an idea I've already skipped around before, which is how AI is appears to the world of video-games at large. My problem with the general reality here is how it's specifically meant to be applied to the video-game realm.

Last night, during a game of StarCraft, I was reminded how the presence of bots and such has dwindled to a very sparse existence in games. Yeah, it should come as no surprise here that I would rather spend a night in a multiplayer game with rudimentary AI than people. The problem with that is how slowly and distorted Moore's Law applies when it crosses the border for our culture. Speaking within reason, it's not exactly realistic to expect true, strong, or advanced AI in a game (not in the near future anyway). Now maybe the the landscape will change in about twenty or so years, but even that is only if "things' go according to plan (which they of course, never do).

I don't know the intricacies of pathing and scripting, but I am interested in it and would be willing to accept input from anyone who has further knowledge on the matter. I also made a long rambling rant on how vital AI is for the stealth genre in my Metal Gear posts a few months ago.

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My primary intrigue/speculation for this comes accompanied by my desire to actually witness the application in video-games, because we haven't gotten it yet. To be fair though, I know that this probably won't happen and the most that gamers will ever get out of the equation are strictly illusory constructs; robots or machines that are designed to simulate intelligence without having an ounce of it. Anybody doesn't think that the realm of the consciousness and mind can be applied to a machine really disappoints me; as we're not as complicated as we'd love to believe. With the way machines are advancing, just the sheer math of our organic chemistry and makeup will be surpassed infinitely in its basest form (on some grounds, even that is already being threatened). Along with the playground of games comes an amazing paradigm that I've seen no attempt to gain access to. That playground is how games can be used to advance AI and vice-versa.

AI has advanced to where we have perception systems running and machines capable of deductive reasoning to an extent, even to the point of being able to play classic games like chess with the most intelligent of men. However, those countless algorithms are based upon so much control and exhaustive regimen, that it's no wonder the entire picture is advancing so slowly. With a game, you can setup specific systems for an audience to interact with, both as a game and as an experiment. Of course design will have to find some way to realistically chart around the attempts of the AI constructs, but the goal can be gratifying on dual fronts. As a game it would be a noteworthy experiment, while as a scientific goal, it would be like mass trials to richly test human-machine interactions.

My nirvana here is to bear witness to the day when it will be illegal to put an AI in a game or at least illegal to the point where law could accompany the application (grand and improbable dream? you decide). This is because once 'strong AI' begins to surface globally, the entire notion of ethics and philosophy will have to be altered significantly to accompany it (and I'd love to see humanity begin to sort out that bitch of a mess myself). It's important in the here-and-now because the technological singularity HASN'T happened yet, and it may not even happen for another century (the model I looked at shows a singularity happening around 2080 sometime). These 'creative tests' can be accomplished now, while the systems don't have of anything resembling "true sentience" or the boundaries we currently define as life.

These possibilities fascinate me because this destroys (or at least knocks the wind of out of) what it means to be human by having humans create life on their own grounds. I'd just love to see video-games play a significant part in that.

On a slightly related note, I'd also adore seeing how far BCI systems (Brain-Computer Interface) will develop over the next twenty years. I've never been much for the tattoos and piercings, but if I see any attainable openings for replacing my own flesh for machine parts, I'm taking it. That sounds like something I could really get into as far "trivial interests" go. =p

~sLs~