30 2008

英语阅读 Turning dumb dialogue into intelligent conversation

Published by at 22:26 under 英语阅读

Keith Stuart 在这里谈的是电脑游戏中人工智能(AI)控制的角色之间的对话。

Turning dumb dialogue into intelligent conversation
o Keith Stuart
o The Guardian,
o Thursday October 30 2008

In 1950, when the mathematician Alan Turing set out to tackle the question “Can machines think?” the intellectual litmus paper he settled on was conversation. The Turing test – in which an AI program attempts to fool judges into believing they are conversing with a human – has never been passed, though two weeks ago, a program named Elbot came close.

The Turing test has validated communication as a convenient signifier for machine intelligence. Which is perhaps why chat between computer-controlled enemies has become such a familiar element of modern videogames. The groundbreaking 2005 shooter F.E.A.R was one of the first, allowing AI characters to shout out your position. Of course, providing a series of stock phrases triggered by specific game events isn’t exactly cutting-edge stuff, but – as has always been the case with videogame AI – the illusion is everything. This is why the programmer Will Wright invented a whole gibberish language – Simlish – for his Sims games: he wanted the impression of communication without the computational nightmare of recording thousands of phrases.

Things are advancing: enemy soldiers are becoming proactive, formulating and verbalising simple strategies. In Ubisoft’s Far Cry 2, you can hear your opponents helping each other. As the game’s technology director Dominic Guay explains: “One AI can tell two others to flank the player while a third rushes him and the first takes care of suppression fire.”

This sort of chatter increases the sense of immersion – and it also provides clues about enemy operations. Is that shrub you’ve just dived behind providing sufficient cover? If your enemies are yelling “I’ve lost him!”, the chances are it is.

Jeff Orkin, the programmer behind the AI in F.E.A.R and an AI researcher at MIT, says communication and verbalisation must go further. “We want enemies that truly live in persistent, open-ended worlds, and are working towards longer-term plans such as building defences, disseminating information and sabotaging the player’s efforts.”

Stumbling into a group of enemies as they bicker over strategies for your demise is going to be a key pleasure of next-generation shoot-’em-ups. Verbal communication between the player and AI characters is another inevitable progression. In EndWar, Ubisoft allows the player to control units using voice commands delivered via a microphone. This hints toward a future in which the player will chat with AI allies and taunt enemies. Turing would be impressed.

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