Researchers at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have unveiled their latest project. He’s called Eddie, and he’s a character within Second Life who’s claimed to have the reasoning abilities of a four-year-old child. It’s part of the Institute’s research into more realistic virtual characters, who can have their own beliefs and reason about the beliefs of the human-controlled avatars that they meet.
Video after the jump.
Project leader Selmer Bringsjord is certainly ambitious about the project, which brings together logic-based artificial intelligence and computational cognitive modelling techniques (oh, and a supercomputer to process it all):
“Current avatars in massively multiplayer online worlds — such as Second Life — are directly tethered to a user’s keystrokes and only give the illusion of mentality. Truly convincing autonomous synthetic characters must possess memories; believe things, want things, remember things. Our aim is not to construct a computational theory that explains and predicts actual human behavior, but rather to build artificial agents made more interesting and useful by their ability to ascribe mental states to other agents, reason about such states, and have — as avatars — states that are correlates to those experienced by humans. Applications include entertainment and gaming, but also education and homeland defense.”
Eddie has already been put through his paces with a ‘False Belief’ experiment in Second Life (you can see video footage of it here). IBM is one of the sponsors, and apparently the ultimate aim is to create a version of the Star Trek holodeck (really – this is from the press release) allowing humans to interact with synthetic characters.