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AI researchers think Rascals can pass Turing test

According to this article at EETimes.com, there is an AI research group at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute that believes that they are in the process of creating an AI entity that will finally be able to pass the legendary Turing Test. Their target date is this fall. They need to use the world’s fastest supercomputer, IBM’s Blue Gene in order to get the real-time results necessary, however. Interestingly, they are partnering with a multimedia group that is designing a holodeck… yes, as in Star Trek.

“We are building a knowledge base that corresponds to all of the relevant background for our synthetic character–where he went to school, what his family is like, and so on,” said Selmer Bringsjord, head of Rensselaer’s Cognitive Science Department and leader of the research project.

In order to come up with the complete personality and history, they are taking a novel approach. One of Bringsjord’s graduate students is providing his life as the model. They are in the process of putting all that data into their knowledge base. Facts, figures, family trivia and even personal beliefs from the student are what is going to make up the synthetic character.

“This synthetic person based on our mathematical theory will carry on a conversation about himself, including his own mental states and the mental states of others,” said Bringsjord.

However, before you game AI programmers get all excited about this as some sort of potential middleware product…

“Our artificial intelligence algorithm is now making this possible, but we need a supercomputer to get real-time performance.”

It looks like they are doing more than just facts and figures on the project, however. They are going to great lengths to add psychology and even a form of empathy (my word, not theirs).

The key to the realism of RPI’s synthetic characters, according to Bringsjord, is that RPI is modeling the mental states of others–in particular, one’s beliefs about others’ mental states. “Our synthetic characters have correlates of the mental states experienced by all humans,” said Bringsjord. “That’s how we plan to pass this limited version of the Turing test.”

The difference with this compared to standard ,observable facts is “second-order beliefs”. In order to do that, you have to be able to get outside of your own collection of perceptions, memories and beliefs and into the mind of others. In a demo that they put together on Second Life (which I will not bother embedding here since it is unexplained and boring), they show that they have been working on 1st order and 2nd order beliefs.

An example is, if something changes after a person leaves the room, you observe the change but they don’t, you must know that the absent person will have no knowledge of that change even though you do. Therefore, the other person’s belief is that it is actually unchanged. You have to be able to look at the world through their eyes… not just in the present tense, but by replaying the recent history and knowing that they would have no knowledge of the change that occurred.

Hell… as Soren Johnson pointed out in his GDC lecture, we can’t even afford to do individual “fog of war” for 8 or 10 computer-controlled enemies. At least not on a typical PC. Imagine trying to keep all that activity straight in a running buffer of some sort… for everything in the environment. *sigh*

I keep having to go back to what Ray Kurzweil was predicting at his GDC keynote… that there is still a logarithmic growth in capability happening in technology. Given his figures, putting this sort of depth in a computer game will definately happen in my lifetime – and perhaps in my career. Now that will be scary.

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One Response to “AI researchers think Rascals can pass Turing test”

  1. Noah W-F says:

    Bringsjord’s collaborative Brutus project also got a lot of press attention when it was in the offing. Looking under the hood, as I did recently on Grand Text Auto, tells a different story. So I’ll want to examine the technical details of this current effort before deciding what I think.

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