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Business - Written by on Thursday, September 13, 2007 10:01 - 2 Comments

A safe haven for AI testing…

US firm Novamente will be testing out artificial intelligence (AI) in an artificial world. (For full BBC article click here). Novamente has developed software for avatars in communities like Second Life that will learn from its surroundings, reason and problem solve. The initial avatars with AI will most likely be virtual pets; Novamente hopes to eventually develop avatars like talking parrots or babies that are more complex. “You would get one [virtual baby] and it would be yours for the next 18 years.” says Dr. Ben Goertzel founder and head of Novamente.

party animals

The idea of using the virtual world to develop AI technology is actually quite brilliant. Since, much of the time, AI tends to have a negative stigma, propagated by the media and movies. People don’t want something out of Will Smith’s ‘I, Robot‘ or Keanu Reeves’ ‘Matrix’ to happen in their lifetime. Even Disney’s ‘Meet the Robinson’s’ exhibited the perils of AI (and the list goes on). No one wants their former house cleaning ‘bot chasing them down trying to kill them… or their PCs and inventions trying to take over the world – for those of you who haven’t seen these movies.

Having avatars with AI in the virtual world sits better with people than experimenting in the real world with a real robot for various reasons, one of which is listed above. Paranoia aside, the virtual world will also serve as a more accepting marketplace for this type of technology, and as Dr. Goertzel says, “it’s a lot more practical to control virtual robots in simulated worlds than real robots”.


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David Hart
Sep 13, 2007 19:05

See also Ben’s recent blog post “On the Merits of Parrots: The Wisdom of Crowds as a Strategy for Educating Young AI’s”


This strategy uses hundreds or thousands of autonomous virtual animals, each of which which might casually chat up virtual world residents. The ‘flock’ of parrots however would have collective memory, enabling learning on a mass collaboration scale.

AGI-World (Bruce Klein’s blog) » Novamente, AGI and Virtual Worlds
Dec 16, 2007 19:35

[...] Kwan’s Wikinomics Blog, A safe haven for AI testing: The idea of using the virtual world to develop AI technology is actually quite brilliant. Since, [...]

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