Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Is There A Growing AI Problem?

ExtremeTech believes there is. As games have developed over the decades and have become a visual likeness of reality, the mechanics behind the games haven't evolved as much as we would expect. Sure the trigger recoil on a gun in Call of Duty may feel better on the controls, your running speed is more accurate in Grand Theft Auto, and even the flight of a Chocobo in Final Fantasy XIV moves like a dream. But have AI grown with games or are we at an endless struggle of non-improvement?

I'd like to argue that it has improved. I look to GoldenEye 007 for the N64 as the prime example of this. Remember the "Escort Natalya" mission? Where she wanders aimlessly into walls, sometimes hiding in corners where she becomes permanently attached to and never moving, and walking in front of guns? Today's AI is leaps and bounds more superior to what we had. But I do feel that AI can be improved upon. The biggest issue that I see is getting the computer to think like a human - something scientists have been struggling with for decades as the robot generation moves closer to a reality. Human behavior is impossible to predict. While we may repeat actions over time to create patterns for computers to analyze, there is still the random variable of us being human that AI's can't adapt to. That's why Neo scores a victory for humanity in 'The Matrix.' It's our unpredictable nature that can't be replicated for an AI.

But I feel that a number of video games have made strides over the years to create an AI that can be on par with our needs. Starcraft II offers a great difficulty scaling and you can tweak your computer opponent's skill level to suit your needs - do you want then to be more defensive and build up their base, or more aggressive and spam Zerg Rushes? That's a simplified example of AI, but it provides the gamer with plenty of content along with the challenges that they are looking for.

With games like Skyrim and Fallout 4, the AI is bundled into the graphics - a point that I'll agree with ExtremeTech on. Players want to see the reaction of NPC's. The visual cues are what make the game feel more realistic. This doesn't always translate into a better AI experience. It's easy to program a character's reaction (If Player does A action, NPC will provide B reaction). What makes a truly great AI stand out is if the reaction is not programmed but completely intuitive. And if we reach that point, we need to start preparing for the AI war.

There are a number of technical limitations with AI in video games. Some of it really is based on the fact that our processing speeds are still too slow that AI's can't create all possible outcomes of a player's decision. The complexity of the human mind truly is that great, despite what we may believe if current news is anything to go off of.

But AI really has improved over the years with video games. We can make them as complex or as simplified as we like for our games with a few mouse clicks. My only big complaint is with companion AI's for games like Dragon Age and Final Fantasy when it comes to spacial recognition. They love to hog the camera and get in my shot, or walk around in circles when I'm talking to NPC's. I would consider that more of an AI priority then making them think like a human. Because 'The Matrix' is a thing and that's a creepy ass notion.


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