Having fun with Artificial Intelligence

As schools that I work with are moving to add some game design to the curriculum, one of the components of game design is Artificial Intelligence.

What is artificial intelligence?  Is it that terribly boring class you had to take after data structures in school, based on search, trees and blah-blahs.  Or was it the cognitive science class that you took because you need that type of credit?  Or maybe you actually took it because you were interested in it, for you I would like to ask that you help me out with comments.  Otherwise, over the next few posts, I am going to discuss my own explorations into artificial intelligence, reading technical papers, and discussions with professors.

I am curious though: Where are all of those scary artificial intelligences from the 1960/1970 time frame? Those would be interesting, unless they are going to kill me.  On my Live Spaces site: http://hottech.spaces.live.com/, I usually write about my thinking process before I publish here on MSDN blogs.  One of my favorite papers on Artificial Intelligence is: "Application of Artificial Intelligence for Predicting Beer Flavours From Chemical Analysis" by C.I. Wilson and L. Threapleton (www.neurosolutions.com/resources/apps/beer.html).

So some of my thought process wandered through the John Lily's LSD driven drivel about the human brain.  John Lily's writings is more about a mechanistic brain rather then the fluid and soulful human brain, you can pick up the link on my Live Spaces shown above.

Then I read some of the MIT lectures about artificial intelligence at http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/Electrical-Engineering-and-Computer-Science/6-034Spring-2005/LectureNotes/

Then, onto John McCarthy's paper on "Programs with Common Sense", http://www-formal.stanford.edu/jmc/mcc59.html. This is the first paper that was clearly about Artificial Intelligence.   I always try to find the base papers for computer technology, usually these the best people to describe the whole idea and they are usually very good at explaining complex ideas.  Later when the PhD thesis and authors muck up the discipline with their normal drive to being average (as I do as well) the explanations become long winded and confusing.  Anyway, Dr. McCarthy's paper titled "Programs With Common Sense" should be read by anyone interested in AI.  So the question becomes: How do I make my XNA Express games more interesting to play by adding artificial intelligence?  But what is intelligence?  In most games it is seen as the randomness of the roll of dice, many game players hate this and these are the types that play chess or bridge (although that seems random to me).  If I add true intelligence will it make the game believable or not, does this change the nature of games (unlikely).

Here is a really good article on "Communication with Alien Intelligence" http://web.media.mit.edu/~minsky/papers/AlienIntelligence.html, this is a great discussion, and little math in it, just some thinking.  If you read this paper and the John Lily reference you will see what I mean, John Lily attempted to describe the human brain as a mechanical device.  Minsky makes the point that we should be able to communicate with aliens, and this is where I would think that would be interesting to people who want to move artificial intelligence from search engines to something I can have a conversation with, or plays in an interesting, but non-random process.

How how is Artificial Intelligence used in various products?  SQL server uses a form of AI to assist with load balancing and so forth.  What about games?  Intelligence to the end user can be raised as easily as making the AI avatars harder to kill, to a certain point.  Many artificial intelligence systems are little more then random number generators that are used to create actions in game pieces that respond to the player piece.  The nature of advancing artificial intelligence will allow the player to have a richer environment, and maybe help manage their spot in the cohort.

(If you are going to read the John Lily's articles and if you are under 18, please make sure your parents know that you are reading his writings, John Lily's writings are not revolutionary, they are just a fiction written with government research funds, but that they might help you understand a mechanicalistic intelligence, although I like Minsky's with the paper "Alien Intelligence" work better, but since Dr. Minsky is a much better author, you don't have to tell your parents you are reading his writings.)

Well that is it for now, speaking of neat advance tools, take a look at the Silverlight stuff: http://www.microsoft.com/silverlight/default01.aspx

Have fun, and one of the fun things you can do is read these articles on artificial intelligence that I have placed in the blog.   Feel free to link to this site!

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