March 23, 2008
I occasionally make posts composed of link dumps, to help GTxA readers find articles they might enjoy and may have missed. This time I need to split the dump into two parts, the first part being a set of articles ranging from the slightly over-the-top to the truly hyperbolic. I will gently attempt to challenge, refute or debunk each as I go. :-)
- Hypertext boring? That’s the assertion Ben Vershbow made in a post that leads with a commentary on Hypertextopia, spawned from an earlier GTxA post. I’ve certainly been one to vent my issues with hypertext as a form for fiction, but “boring”, hypertext isn’t. Like Nick’s Portal v. Passage post, Ben’s post spawned a good discussion though, including reactions elsewhere (1 2 3); in the discussion, Ben admits to being deliberately provocative. (As a side note, btw, Ben is a developer of CommentPress, used to implement Noah’s Expressive Processing blog-review project here on GTxA.)
- In the annual GDC rant session, Clint Hocking asked: why don’t game developers take more risks towards making more meaningful games? Showing screenshots of Passage and The Marriage, Clint reportedly said, “Two guys tinkering in their spare time have moved things forward more than the rest of the industry.” While I agree with 99.9% of what Clint says in general, that statement seemed a bit of a stretch. As much as I appreciate Passage as a good game analog of a poem, and The Marriage as a short experiment in modelling the dynamics of human relationships, to me they are each small steps forward, no more important than the accomplishments of a variety of commercial games, such as The Sims, the Half-Life series, The Last Express, and virtual pets.
- Jesper links to and gives commentary on a physical avatar product, ConnectR, an iRobot product about to go on the market. Wow, that’s pretty cool, as well as difficult to believe people will like it. Then again, Roomba made it into the pilot of Knight Rider, so…
- Games are Art links to video clips of some conversational robots from Japan, including Qrio. I have my doubts the robot really performs as well it does in the video.
- The Escapist has an article on how to build a holodeck. The crazy thing to me is, the article only focuses on the hologram side of things, completely ignoring the AI and game design requirements… which ultimately may be harder to implement than the holograms. (Speaking of the holodeck, Tale-of-Tales recently presented a picture tour through some of the interactive games that have appeared in various Star Trek TV series.)
- There is a small movement of AI developers and enthusiasts towards artificial general intelligence. That in itself, while extremely ambitious, seems like a reasonable research direction; there was recently a conference on the topic with over 120 people in attendance, blogged by Ben Goertzel. Goertzel, who has his own startup called Novamente to build AGI-related products, has the idea to tap into MMOs as a resource for training AGIs. Seems like a good idea — akin to Jeff Orkin’s research, perhaps. However he starts going a bit off the rails with statements like this:
It seems possible to harness the “wisdom of crowds” phenomenon underlying these Internet phenomena [such as Google, Wikipedia] for AGI, enabling AGI systems to learn from vast numbers of appropriately interacting human teachers. There are no proofs or guarantees about this sort of thing, but it does seem at least plausible that this sort of mechanism could lead to a dramatic acceleration in the intelligence of virtually-embodied AGI systems, and maybe even on a time-scale faster than the pathway to Singularity-enabling AGI that Ray Kurzweil has envisioned, which brain-scanning and hardware advances lead to human-brain emulation, which then leads on to more general and powerful transhuman AGIs.
Too much handwaving going there for my taste.
- You probably know, Ray Kurzweil keynoted GDC this year, predicting a Full Intelligence Sim by 2029.
- However, my list of hyperbolic links doesn’t peak there… that designation goes to Selmer Bringsjord and his latest project, Rascals, a collaboration with Steve Nerbetski. You may recall Noah’s deconstruction of Bringsjord and David Ferrucci’s Brutus system, a story generator whose claims of narrative intelligence garnered significant press. So far, this time around, only EETimes, Slashdot and few technophile sites couldn’t resist reporting on Rascals, an “AI program that thinks like a four year old”, rolling out this Fall. Don’t believe cynical old me though: see for yourself by downloading videos of the AI in action, performing within their Second Life testbed.
(Note, it’s not the research itself that troubles me, it’s the claims that accompany it.)
Let’s come down to earth in Part 2 of my link dump…