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AIIDE 2009 – The Photoshop of AI Debate – Michael Mateas

The following are my rough notes from Michael Mateas’ invited talk. He continued the “Photoshop of AI” debate that was started by Chris Hecker at GDC 2008 and continued at a panel at the 2009 AI Summit at GDC. To sum up what he presented, he basically said it was a non-issue because it was based on a number of false premises. Here are my notes:

Recaps Chris Hecker’s 2008 talk on the subject. Talks about what the panel at the 2009 AI Summit said on the subject.

Photoshop of AI is a mirage:
Grossly underestimates the size of the AI problem.
Overestimates the intuitiveness of visual art production.
Doesn’t take seriously the property of conditional execution.
DOES highlight the authoring problem in AI.
False premise that graphics and AI are set up as equals.
The problem of representing 3D space is the same from game to game. Quake to Prince of Persia to Bioshock.
From AI NPC, e.g. Thief compared to Madden. NOT the same problem. Many examples of how different games pose different problems.

Representing graphics via the texture mapped triangle is infinitesimally small compared to representing AI via code.
Graphics represents the problem of renaissance perspective. Invents a specific style of representation.
AI represents almost everything else. AI is NP-Hard.
Book: Noah Waldrip-Fruin – Expressive Processing
Hecker’s desiderata for style DOF’s
Intuitive
Expressive
Frugal
Blendable
Efficient
Photoshop is not really “intuitive”. 17,133 results on Amazon for books about how to use Photoshop… 1602 since January 2009. So much for intuitive.
Photoshop builds on millennia of practice in the visual arts.
Even if Photoshop is hard to learn, it may still be “intuitive” for trained visual artists.
AI Designer is a new type of artist. We have no pre-existing practice for us to be “intuitive” relative to. “A new kind of artist working in a fully computational medium, focused on the aesthetics of behavior.”
Essence of AI is that it is a conditional process executing over time… not static. The style of such a process lies in its conditional decision making. Different in kind from the static nature of the triangle/texture decomposition.
Spore Galactic Adventures… people could create creatures but not quests. Creation of the creatures was immediate feedback, but creation of questions… only way you can test it is to play it over and over because it is procedural.
Static artifacts support immediate global feedback. What would that look like for AI? You can’t get the static visualization feedback from AI.
Birth of AI was declaration that computer is a general symbol manipulation machine (not just calculator).
Re: Façade
Is it data-driven? No
It must be scripted. No.
WTF? (Fairy dust!)
People think either in terms of floats or in imperative code. Instead, Façade is based on blendable symbolic behaviors.
Instead of data-driven AI, think in terms of knowledge-driven AI. Classic AI approach is to create a knowledge-representation language that solves a specific problem you have, and then write the reasoning system (interpreter) for that language. Starts to sound like a structure vs. style decomposition.
Related to scripting, but far more general. Every scripting language that he has seen has been imperative – like C.
Agree with Chris that game AI must be authorable… BUT, there is no:
Universal solution
Magic numbers-and-flags only representation
Pre-existing artistic tradition we can leverage
How do you know if what you are doing is any good?
Authorial Leverage…
Leverage = (Quality * Variability) / Effort
Sims 3 = rule-based language with custom predicates and custom actions for designers to write the rules for world effects and state changes. E.g. “if this social practice is carried out in this situation, what would happen?” Custom KR model (knowledge-driven AI). Not the Photoshop of AI in Chris’ sense because it is not universal. It is domain-specific.

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