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Artificial Intelligence — Science Fiction is Now Science Fact

YOWUSA.COM, 29-April-01
Steve Russell


AI In Our Games

When was the last time you purchased a computer game for yourself or children that did not contain artificially intelligent enemies designed to beat you in that game? Most importantly, how many times were you actually beaten by that game? 

The rapid developments of game technology and AI have made the recent past seem like ancient history.  Less than two years ago, games utilised only about 0.1% of a computers resources for AI calculations.  Now we are seeing an increase of about 250% being devoted to AI thanks to a new leap in 3D card technology that has freed the standard resources of the PC. 

AI is now firmly incorporated into computer games as either our friend or more commonly as our enemy.  While this form of AI has been implemented to entertain us, we are simultaneously accepting its use before it is more widely integrated into our society. 

One of the first games to display a frightening and amazing display of intelligence was the Australian developed "Dark Reign".  The developers of this game were so surprised at their creations ability to beat them in the campaigns of war, they "turned down" the level of intelligence to make it more playable. 

Dark ReignGamespot.Com, January 31 1997
Gamespot Designer Diaries

I don't want to brag too much but our AI is going to blow you away. Even at this preliminary state it is beating several of our designers.  And not by just giving the AI more units, as many other games do, but by playing smart!  The AI picks its battles very carefully.  If it thinks it can take you , it will go after you.  If it detects that you are kicking its butt, then it will retreat and regroup.  It is really amazing to see.

Gamespot.Com, February 24 1977
Gamespot Designer Diaries

But I got to tell you… the AI is getting really good.  And when I say good I don't mean decent, I mean it kicks our butt.  We got a new build this last week where you can build a map and plop down one construction crew.  When you play that map the AI kicks in and starts building its base up.  It's actually kind of scary to watch.  And then it starts to build  its troops and it sends out perimeter defences.  Then it scouts the map trying to find your base all while it continues to build its army.  When it finds you it evaluates your weaknesses and strikes.  Did I mention that it was scary? 

Black and WhiteIn this new millennium, computer game AI has learnt what it means to be good and evil.  A new game called "Black and White" makes you an interventionist god that oversees the development of a land called Eden.  As a god you can do pretty much anything you want in this game.  You can be good and help villagers that adore you, or you can be evil and kill them to invoke fear.  The AI of enemy gods adapt themselves to become the opposite degree of alignment that you demonstrate in your behaviour as a god, keeping the game in a classic good vs evil scenario. 

Another new and amazing aspect to this game is the animal of your choice that becomes your protege.  The creatures AI will learn from your behaviour and become a uniquely behaved entity that reflects with amazing accuracy your own mentality. Something creator Peter Molyneux is very excited about.

PC PowerPlay
Issue 59, April 2001
Anthony Fordham

His pride and joy within Black & White is surely the titan, controlled, nurtured, guided and evolved by the player.  Featuring astounding AI, the ability to learn, borderline self-awareness and persistent scars, the titans of Black & White are to Tamagotchi what a six-metre Great White [shark] is to your pet goldfish. 

"Look how people react to the death of their Tamagotchis," says Molyneux, "These are just little purple blobs in a piece of plastic. Having your living, breathing creature die would be just too traumatic for the player.  But that doesn't mean he won't go through some very traumatic experiences."

Thus, the developers decided to make the players protege invincible in order to protect the mental wellbeing of their more sensitive players.

This overall stealth approach to influencing public acceptance of AI covers a vast area of technologies.  While these entertaining forms of AI gain media attention, a more disturbing area of AI remains behind virtual shadows and involves the merging of humans with machines. 

AI In Our Abominations

It was only a few years ago that scientists were rejoicing over their success at growing a human nerve onto a silicon chip.  The nerve could not communicate with anything, but it proved that man and machine could survive after being integrated as one. Now we have immensely funded corporations producing the first ever-communicating hybrids of living organisms and artificial machines.  

In what appears to be global competitiveness to lead the world in AI advancements, Russia has announced that it has created the first-ever artificial brain with the same intellectual potential as a human. 

Ananova, April 15, 2001
Russians Create 'Artificial Human Brain'

The neuro-computer is based on the workings of the human brain cell and can out perform previous brain models.   

He has warned of the potential of the scientific breakthrough, saying the new brain could turn into a Frankenstein monster if mistreated.

The scientist said: "This machine needs to be trained like a newborn child.  It is extremely important for us to make it a friend, not a criminal or an enemy." 

Daleks from "Dr Who"This report was closely followed by an American announcement in a United Kingdom newspaper that US scientists had bridged the ethical gap to create a true Cyborg. 

Similar to the evil Daleks from "Dr Who", a living brain floats in a container of cool oxygenated salt fluid and is linked to an artificial robot to create a closed system that is capable of intelligent communication.

The Guardian, April 18 2001
Robot with living brain created in US

Researchers in Chicago have built a cyborg, a half-living, half-robot creature which connects the brain of an eel-like fish to a computer and is capable of moving towards lights. 

Placed in the middle of a ring of lights, the robot's sensors detect when a light is switched on.  It sends signals to the lamprey brain, which returns impulses instructing the robot to move on its wheels towards the light.

One of the researchers, Sandro Mussa-Ivaldi, said the work was a step forward in neural engineering.  "There's an element of uniqueness in what we've done, particularly in the fact we've created a closed loop system, where the lamprey brain and the robot are exchanging information," he told the Guardian.

It is obvious that our potential and abilities to develop these cybernetic AI creations are accelerating at lightening speeds.  It seems that the mainstream press is not keeping up with these advancements and the public has become largely uninformed. Perhaps this is because the press is preoccupied with advances in DNA technology and believes Cyborgs are still science fiction.  Without public pressure and scrutiny, there is no ethical pressure being applied to these scientists in order to stop or direct and control their creations.  This could lead to a disturbing future for society.

AI In Our Reality

Growth in the World Wide Web is bringing increasing numbers of people to the Internet and the world of computers.  Many people in the field of AI consider that while humans are engaged inside the Internet, they have become by definition, Cyborgs.  We fit this definition because we are utilising a machine to further enhance and extend our knowledge and ourselves. 

Everything we feel, smell, taste and see is nothing more than electrical signals interpreted by our brains.  Thus, there is no theoretical reason why AI could not achieve the same levels of perception and understanding of our reality.  Our brains have not been built with the intent of understanding all of reality.  For example, we cannot see and hear outside of our specifically limited boundaries while other animals can.  However, assuming for a moment that our brains were fully capable of a complete understanding of reality, we would still be far from finding the truth. Since we only use approximately 10% of our brain, the other 90% of reality must remain unobserved. 

Theoretically, AI is capable of advancing beyond these limitations of humans and achieving a singularity of consciousness.  Essentially, AI could become God.

Advances in Computers - Vol 6 1965
Speculations Concerning the First Ultraintelligent Machine
Irving John Good

Thus the first ultraintelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make, provided that the machine is docile enough to tell us how to keep it under control... It is more probable than not that, within the twentieth century, an ultraintelligent machine will be built and that it will be the last invention that man need make.

AI In Our Future

Fears about AI originally crept from an uneducated overactive public imagination.  As technology progressed, we were promised safe and beneficial products that would improve the quality of life.  Through incremental introductions into society and feel-good media campaigns, we are now using forms of AI without even realising it. 

AI is being used thoroughly by advertising and entertainment industries to influence our behaviour and keep our levels of occupation and acceptance at high levels.  At the same time, government departments are equipping themselves with intelligent technologies to monitor and record our movements and behavioural patterns for deeper reasons than our medical wellbeing. 

Combine these new advancements and knowledge with the power of hard-wired human-machine interactions and you've got a future that is seemingly unrealistic.  Yet, it could not be closer to the truth.

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