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Virtual pets can learn just like babies
28 March 2008
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Celeste Biever, Memphis
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Deb Roy, MIT
"Pets can be trained to help win
battles in adventure games such as
World of Warcraft"
"SIT," says the man. The dog tilts its head but does nothing.
"Sit," the man repeats.
The dog lies down. "No!" the man admonishes.
Then, unable to get the dog to sit, the man decides to teach it by
example. He sits down himself.
"I'm sitting. Try sitting," he says. The dog cocks its head
attentively, folds its hind legs under its body and sits. "Good!"
says the man.
No, it's not a rather bizarre way to teach your pet new tricks. It is
a demonstration a synthetic character in a virtual world being
controlled by an autonomous artificial intelligence (AI) program,
which will be released to inhabitants of virtual worlds like Second
Life later this year.
Novamente, a company in Washington DC which built the AI
program that controls the dog, says that the demonstration is a
foretaste not just of future virtual pets but of computer games to
come. Their work, along with similar programs from other
researchers, was presented at the First Conference on Artificial
General Intelligence at the University of Memphis in Tennessee
earlier this month.
If first impressions are anything to go by, synthetic pets like
Novamente's dog will be a far cry from today's virtua