In 2001 two scientific researchers, John Laird and Michael van Lent, wrote an article for AI Magazine titled ‘Human-Level AI’s Killer Application – Interactive Computer Games’. The magazine, published and distributed by the stern and serious American Association for Artificial Intelligence, went out to universities and laboratories around the world. In their piece, Laird and van Lent described a future for the games industry where cutting-edge artificial intelligence was the selling point for games. “The graphics race seems to have run its course,” they declared. As they saw it, “better AI [is] becoming the point of comparison” for modern games. This didn’t quite work out.
This is a series of posts about artificial intelligence and videogames. It’s also about science, society, the future, the past, YouTube, Elon Musk, and how all of these things can hurt and help the future of the games that we play and love. It’s about how Laird and van Lent’s dream never came true, and probably never will – but it’s also about a new hope that I have for science, research and games, and one that you can be a part of. In a sense, I’m going to claim the same thing that Laird and van Lent did fourteen years ago – that the games industry might be on the brink of major change. It’ll be up to you to decide if I’m repeating the same old failed predictions, or if something is different this time. In this first part, we’re going to look back and ask why nothing happened fourteen years ago, and examine our relationship with better AI in modern games.
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