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On Game AI In The Uncanny Valley 87

Posted by Zonk
from the i've-always-wanted-a-house-in-the-valley dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Normally, the Uncanny Valley theory is used to critique graphical realism in games, but it also applies to AI. Therefore, designer David Hayward examines AI's Uncanny Valley over at Gamasutra, citing games from Valve's Half-Life 2 to the interactive drama Façade." From the article: 'There's a small minority of people who are consistently strange in particular ways... I don't mean to pick on them as a group; nearly all of us dip into such behavior sometimes, perhaps when we're upset, out of sorts, or drunk. Relative and variable as our social skills are, AI is nowhere near such a sophisticated level of interactive ability. It is, however, robotic. Monstrous and sometimes unintentionally comedic; the intersection of broken AI and spooky people is coming.'"
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On Game AI In The Uncanny Valley

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    • by greg_barton (5551) *
      Don't mod that down! Funny as hell! :)

      Anyway, I don't think the uncanny valley will be a factor in AI for quite some time. There's just far too much to overcome.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      This "burning Elmo" is mentioned in the article, so it is not offtopic. I suddenly don't blame the machines in Matrix for wanting to wipe out humanity...
    • Thats cruel
  • by cgenman (325138) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @08:19PM (#19330515) Homepage
    One of the things which people don't mention about the uncanny valley, is that the valley moves. What seems uncannily human to our parents, was normal to us. What's uncanny to us, will look artificial to our kids.

    As our technology improves to create better and better artificial representations, our ability to detect them does as well.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by grumbel (592662)
      And the most important part about the uncanny valley is that its a myth and not a scientifically verified barrier for technological progress. When animation or 3D models looks uncanny, they look so because nobody who understood their craft fixed them up. Motion capture is a nice thing, but it can't replace an animator and a 3d scanner can't replace a skilled modeler, which is why the 3D scanned Tiger Woods looks creepy and the hand modeled guys in Gears of War look fine.

      And btw: There have been studies comp
      • by fractoid (1076465) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @11:03PM (#19331931) Homepage
        I think you misunderstand - the Uncanny Valley isn't a myth so much as an observation. It's pretty simple to demonstrate that most people are less comfortable with things that look nearly-but-not-quite human than things that are human, or things that look completely inhuman. Take, for example, Toy Story vs. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. The first one was a 3D cartoon, and hence it was easy to identify with the caricatures of toys. The second tried to be 'photorealistic' and (due to some rushed animation) was a little off, and as a result was much harder to identify with the characters. That's not to say that with excellent mocap/animation/production, an animated model can't be accepted as human. If they are, that just means that they're good enough to appear on the 'near side' of the valley.

        The composite faces you mention are likewise on the near side of the valley. Images of faces fabricated from scratch often are likewise, with current technology, due to the fact that still images contain so much less information than moving ones. Compare modern CGI faces to those of the late 90s and you'll see how they gradually got better, climbing the near slope of the valley and becoming more believable and identify-with-able.
        • by grumbel (592662)
          ### I think you misunderstand - the Uncanny Valley isn't a myth so much as an observation.

          The Uncanny Valley is an conclusion, not an observation and doesn't even apply to computer animation, it was originally meant for robotics. The observation is simply that things can look uncanny, I don't doubt that one. Where I have a problem with is with the claim that they will look more uncanny just because they are more realistic or as some interpret it that more technology will mean worse looking graphics due to t
          • by mcvos (645701) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @06:43AM (#19334679)
            When something does not appear human, its human traits stand out. When something does appear human, its inhuman traits stannd out. This is basically what the Uncannny Valley is about. Exactly what should be considered human and inhuman here probably depends on a thousands of factors. Perhaps being "done well" is part of it, but mostly I think more human appearance and behaviour raises the stanndards of craftmanship considerably. When you're using stick figures, it's not a problem if they don't move exactly like Tiger Woods. In fact, it might be uncannny if they did. If you've got spectacular, photorealistic graphics, everything that's not equally realistic gives you the feeling that something is not quite right.
        • I still call bull (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Moraelin (679338) on Thursday May 31, 2007 @03:47AM (#19333773) Journal
          I still call bull. I was one of those who quoted the Uncanny Valley left and right, but, sorry, I'm more and more convinced that it's so much bullshit it could fertilize a few acres. There is no one-dimension axis measuring likeness to human.

          E.g., let's take two sets of models which were both in the "uncanny valley" if it exists. On one end you have the extremely detailed models of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, and on the other the models of EQ2 which a _lot_ of people described as "lifeless", "sterile" or other such euphemisms. I'm one of those. In fact I'd call them just disturbingly wrong, the kind where your subconscious keeps snapping out of suspension of disbelief screaming "that's not a tree!" and "that's not a human!" If an uncanny valley exists, then they're in the uncanny valley too, right?

          Then something that falls in between those two points should be in the uncanny valley too, right?

          Well, wrong. Oblivion for example was a lot easier to swallow than either, although detail-level-wise it's between the two.

          That's called a Reductio ad absurdum [wikipedia.org] proof, where assuming X leads to the false conclusion Y.

          Furthermore, if you've actually read the Uncanny Valley theory, the examples used are blatantly bogus hand-waving. E.g., yes, a zombie is disturbing, but it's bogus to claim that it's purely for aesthetic or "how much it resembles humans" reasons. There's a whole bunch of cultural and emotional meaning tied to that, and claiming that it trips people's fears just because of the "uncanny valley" effect, is like claiming that you fear a car coming at you just because the headlights look sorta uncanny like eyes.

          And again, you can do a reductio ad absurdum there. The Undead in WoW are the most disturbing visually, the characters in Spirits Within are uncanny valley too, so something in between should be in the Uncanny Valley too. Yet the Wow humans and elves are considered the races that look good.

          In fact the zombies are the perfect counter-example all by themselves. If lowering realism moves something out of the uncanny valley (e.g., lower polycount characters in games are less disturbing than the characters in The Spirits Within), then it should do the same for zombies. It doesn't. They're still repulsive even at Quake 1 polycounts.

          Or if slight imperfections like in Spirits Within, or details like teeth on a vampire, are what makes them disturbing via an Uncanny Valley effect... then how about pointy ears on elves? Shouldn't Legolas cause the same effect? Well, bummer, he doesn't.

          Etc, etc, etc.

          The Uncanny Valley is one of those things that makes sense only as long as you don't actually use your brains.

          Yes, there are all sorts of ways in which being different or acting not-right can trip people's suspension of disbelief. That much is obvious. But there is no single dimension measuring it, and no single Uncanny Valley graph. There are thousands of factors which can be right or awfully wrong or somewhere in between, and thousands of fears, beliefs, expectations that can be tripped by it. You can't take the average and use it as the X axis for an uncanny valley graph, because even if the average is 99% right (hence the whole should be on the right side of the valley), one single detail (e.g., "omg, they're zombies") which can be disturbing on its own.

          E.g., The Spirits Within wasn't just "a littel off", it had outright bad acting. That's what tripped people's suspension of disbelief. There was no uncanny valley effect, no overall being just a little off, it's just what you'd get with human actors acting badly.

          It also overlooks the problem of expectations. The Spirits Within is wrong because you expect them to be human, Toy Story or Oblivion aren't because you expect them to be respectively toys or NPCs in a computer game. You have different sets of expectations for them.

          Aesop's Fables (since they keep getting mentioned as Uncanny Valley effect exam
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by fractoid (1076465)

            There is no one-dimension axis measuring likeness to human.

            It almost certainly differs from person to person, and we may not be able to define it yet in words or symbols, but there must be such an axis for the simple reason that we can define one, and experimentally determine subjects' positions on said axis. A simple test asking a large, random sample of people to rate a number of subjects on a scale of 'lifeless cube'=0 to 'pure believable human'=100 should give you enough data points to get a rough 'normalized humanness' axis. Ask them to crossrate how much the

            • Oh please... (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Moraelin (679338)
              Exactly where do you see a false dillema? No, seriously, quotes about possible logical fallacies are good and fine, but you must first establish that a logic error has actually been commited.

              The logic I'm proposing is along the lines of:

              - _if_ there's such an axis and the curve looks like that (i.e., with a single dip below zero), then the "uncanny valley" zone is basically an interval

              - if two points are part of the same interval, then a point in the middle is part of that interval too. (E.g., taking the in
              • by cgenman (325138)
                The uncanny valley is best used as a broadly-viewed cautionary tale for anyone who wants to have "the most real characters ever." Which is to say, you can have stylized characters, or you can invest a ton of money in realistic characters, but you can't just have mostly realistic characters. If you're going to do realism, you have to spend a ton of money and be in it for the long haul, or else it's going to be held to a higher standard and (usually) fail.

                It also means that if you're having problems with yo
              • There's one BIG flaw in your argument. You're trying mathmatically quantify an emotive response, that's what the Uncanny Valley is about. It's not about polygon counts, rendering techniques or proper shading...it's about creating a genuine human-like construct that other humans can identify with.

                Let's look at a couple of examples that were mentioned:

                FF: The Spirits Within: Very realistic character models in a general sense. The faces of the characters were very waxy, with few lines or minor muscle move

              • by Retric (704075)
                Your assuming the level of detail = how close something is to human, but I can look at a clown or a PS1 level animation and the PS1 level animation is closer to human. QED your method is flawed.

                Anyway, a low resolution painting can look vary human and can easily cross the valley as IMO did stills from the spirits within. However, moving 3d avatars bring a new level where they way things move and style of movement is more important than the number of polygons. The way cloth moves, how people look at things
              • by ShakaUVM (157947)
                You're trying to ignore data points which don't fit on the curve created by the (pulled-out-of-the-ass) hypothesis of the Uncanny Valley. Hand-waving fallacy arguments doesn't forgive this.

                As it is, there are plenty of almost-real characters in games, and they fit people's expectations fine. Consider Final Fantasy 12. Nobody can pretend the characters look real, but they don't trigger the sense of rejection that the Spirits Within did. And if you think that's perfectly-real (which it isn't, by a long shot),
          • a zombie is disturbing, but it's bogus to claim that it's purely for aesthetic or "how much it resembles humans" reasons. There's a whole bunch of cultural and emotional meaning tied to that

            But the cultural meaning of zombies is of very recent inception. The concept of modern zombies is just a corruption of certain Vodoun beliefs and the real popularity of the idea really only just arose with the film industry. There were prior beliefs in some forms of the undead such as the Middle Ages' beliefs in revenants but they were thought of as emaciated corpses or skeletons. Nothing as almost-human as a zombie. I'm cribbing the hell out of the zombie wiki here, but the point is the cultural associati

          • by Malkin (133793)
            Now, I think you're conflating the notion of "disturbing" with the uncanny valley, in some respects. Nothing in WoW falls anywhere within 100 miles of the uncanny valley, quite on-purpose. They deliberately went for an exaggerated, almost cartoony art style for everything. If you find the undead in WoW disturbing, it's not because of the uncanny valley. The uncanny valley isn't the only thing that is capable of triggering the human disgust reflex. In the case of WoW's undead, it is much more likely tha
        • Another good movie example is Polar Express, where the caracters really looked like real persons, recently dead ones to be exact. I really like Romero and other gore movies, but there, I just felt sick. BTW, my 8yo cousin whith wich I saw that movie didn't like it either.
      • First, the Uncanny Valley is a hypthesis. Second, it does not state that realistic renderings look weird. Instead, it states that humans show more and more empathy as models become more and more realistic, but that this rule breaks if we approach a perfect model, and humans suddenly look like zombies.

        This can be easily observed. The unrealistic humans in "the incredibles" seem much more human than the children from "Polar Express," even though Polar Express uses a much more realistic rendering style.

        Wikiped [wikipedia.org]
        • by grumbel (592662)
          ### This can be easily observed. The unrealistic humans in "the incredibles" seem much more human than the children from "Polar Express," even though Polar Express uses a much more realistic rendering style.

          Polar Express looks crap, because they have done a bad job, not because its more realistic. Final Fantasy: Spirits Within looked better, so did Advent Children and Gollum even more so. I mean what do you expect if you use crappy looking 3D models and then map the motions of a 50 year old guy to 8 year ol
          • by LKM (227954)
            FF: SW is a perfect example of how everyone looks dead. Advent Children and Gollum are perfect examples of how people can actually connect to and feel empathy for unrealistic renderings. Your example show that the Uncanny Valley hypothesis seems to be true.

            I still think you're missing the point of the hypothesis. Read the wikipedia article.
            • by grumbel (592662)
              ### Advent Children and Gollum are perfect examples of how people can actually connect to and feel empathy for unrealistic renderings.

              Gollum looks quite realistic to me, fantasy creature sure, but other then that they did everything they can to make him as real as possible. Some old DonkeyKongCountry cartoons look a lot more uncanny to me, even so they are a lot more cartoon then Gollum or Advent Children ever was. And lets not forget that between Advent Children and Spirits Within you had five years of tec
              • by LKM (227954)

                Gollum looks quite realistic to me, fantasy creature sure, but other then that they did everything they can to make him as real as possible.

                Again, you don't undestand the hypothesis. Please read up on it. Thanks.

                • by grumbel (592662)
                  I understand the hypothesis very well, it just happens to be not true and based on the wrong premise that you can somehow place everything on a single axis on how human things look. Thing is, things don't look human or not human due to one simple factor, but due to tons and tons of factors, its simple things that as render techniques, animation and even high level factors such as writing and voice acting. So how exactly do you exact to lump all of that on a single axis? You simple can't and there the whole
                  • by LKM (227954)
                    Okay, let me try to sort this out.

                    First, yes, you're right, voice and writing and other factors play a role, but this is totally irrelevant as the hypothesis does not concern itself with voice and writing and other factors. It only looks at how realistic the character is rendered. I don't understand why you keep bringing up all these other points. Yes, they exist, but it is utterly nonsensical to try to disprove the Uncanny Valley by bringing up things that have nothing to do with the hypothesis. It's as if
                    • by grumbel (592662)
                      ### First, yes, you're right, voice and writing and other factors play a role, but this is totally irrelevant as the hypothesis does not concern itself with voice and writing and other factors.

                      The original hypothesis doesn't even concern about computer animation, let alone games, its about robotics and nothing else. When speaking about games and renderings story and writing do matter a lot. You can use stick figures and wireframe, if the voice acting and story are interesting, nobody will care. If story or
                    • by LKM (227954)

                      Let me say this again: The Uncanny Valley Hypothesis only concerns itself with the influence of realism on the empathy felt by an observer. It does not matter that other things also influence the empathy felt by an observer. Obviously, a well-written story will make the observer feel more empathy, but that doesn't matter for this hypothesis. Why in the world are you incapable of understanding that?

                      And again, this is not a scientific theory. It's a hypothesis. Obviously you can't measure how human something

                    • by grumbel (592662)
                      ### I mean, it's not like you couldn't test this for yourself! I actually feel more empathy for my damn Roomba than for these ugly zombie-like realistic robots,

                      Somebody builds a zombie looking robots and concludes that all robots have to look like zombies. Look for example at:

                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Repliee_Q2.jpg [wikipedia.org]

                      Why does it look wrong? Some obvious reason would be the arm and hand positions, a human doesn't hold his fingers like that, heck, I can't even hold my finger like that if I would want t
                    • by LKM (227954)
                      The fricken point of the hypothesis is that the more realistic your robot looks, the more little details you have to get right in order to make people perceive it has human. The less realistic, the more you can get wrong. All the stuff you point out does not disprove the hypothesis, in fact, it shows that it is right.
                    • by grumbel (592662)
                      ### The fricken point of the hypothesis is that the more realistic your robot looks, the more little details you have to get right in order to make people perceive it has human.

                      No, the thesis doesn't state that things get harder when you get closer to realism. It states that things will look uncanny the closer you get to realism till you hit a point where things will go better again, very different thing. If things just would get harder there never would be a valley to begin with, since you could always jus
                    • by LKM (227954)

                      No, the thesis doesn't state that things get harder when you get closer to realism. It states that things will look uncanny the closer you get to realism till you hit a point where things will go better again, very different thing.

                      GAH! If you fix the "small mistakes,"* obviously it will become more realistic, thus getting out of the valley again. IT'S THE SAME THING! Obviously you're just arguing for argument's sake, and you're not going to admit that at this point of the discussion, so I will end here and just encourage you to - if you indeed still don't get it - read through the wikipedia article again. I'm sure you'll figure it out. Good luck.

                      * the mistakes, by the way, may look small, but that doesn't mean they're easy to fix.

                    • by grumbel (592662)
                      ### GAH! If you fix the "small mistakes,"* obviously it will become more realistic, thus getting out of the valley again. IT'S THE SAME THING!

                      Lets make this short, as I said you *CAN'T* cram something as complicated as computer graphics on a single "cartoon - realism" axis. There are not just real graphics done badly, there are also things like more simplistic graphics done well, you simply can't compare those when you ignore what makes one good and the other bad.

  • You're in a game running along, there's someone beside you... Then you look at him, and he looks back, but there's nothing inside there...

    Playing with bots and people, REALLY unpleasant.
  • Interesting article (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nEoN nOoDlE (27594) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @08:29PM (#19330619) Homepage
    I suspect that consultation with and evaluation by psychology departments may become relevant to game AI in the coming years, given that they're the most comprehensive resource in existence on human behavior

    I disagree with this. I think in the future, game programmers won't have to go as far as the psychology departments of their nearest schools. They'll just have to walk over to the nearest cubicle and talk to the animators working on the game. As game models have become more and more complex, companies are using more and more motion capture to capture action sequences, but animators (especially good ones) are trained to make a non-living 3d model imitate human behavior. There's over 50 years of research done for animation by animators on how to bring life to drawings and 3d models in motion - which is something that can be directly transferred over into programming terms as opposed to a research paper on a psychological disorder. An animator can tell you when to make a character blink in order for it to appear more realistic; a psychologist, not so much.

    btw, IAAA (I am an animator) so I'm slightly biased :)
    • by megaditto (982598)
      I think you might misunderstand the premise here: animation etc. will make non-human things seem humanlike, but these same techniques will make humans look less human!

      Animators know what makes dead 2-D filled shapes feel "human" and likable; if they applied their skills to real people, however, they would make them look dumb, hacked, and repulsive.

      Just imagine Bill Gates Wile-E.-Coyote-ing off a cliff, or Angelina Jolie with Japnime wrinkles and random airlines, buldged eyes, and blue fluffed hair... No ma
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by grumbel (592662)
        ### Animators know what makes dead 2-D filled shapes feel "human" and likable; if they applied their skills to real people, however, they would make them look dumb, hacked, and repulsive.

        A real animator knows what makes a human human-like and given enough time will be able to fix any issues that arise. The issue isn't with animators, its with automated systems like motion capture, since no matter how many reflective dots you glue on an actor, they will always be off by a little bit and that is what gives yo
      • You have absolutely no idea what you're talking about if the only thing you think about when hearing "animation" is Wile E. Coyote or an anime character. Go read the Illusion of Life. Disney animators studied deer carcasses to make Bambi move more realistically - one of my professors at school showed me the anatomy book they came up with from doing so. Animators do a lot more than filling dead 2D shapes, and HAVE applied their skills to real people. There's a reason Gollum worked as well as he did and I co
    • by dj_tla (1048764) <trbekolay&shaw,ca> on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @09:57PM (#19331297) Homepage Journal
      I'm really surprised that your comment was moderated so highly... It may be interesting, but it is incredibly off-topic. Let's not confuse the issue here: the article is about Game AI. Do animators play a big part in creating realistic games? I would argue no. It's easy to get immersed in a well written book, and yet a crappy wooden romantic comedy doesn't pull me in at all. But aren't actors people, providing the most human-like interaction you could hope to achieve through animation? A poorly written script, where characters get in wacky situations and manage to crack a joke at least once a minute just isn't engaging to me because people don't act that way. Game AI could give two shits how nice its graphical representations look, the point (at least for the AI that is discussed in the article) is to make characters behave in a realistic fashion. If I shoot my gloriously animated team-mate in the crotch in "Excellent New FPS Game 3," I want them to turn on me! If they stand there and take it, then I lose that sense of immersion, and any tension I've built up from the realistic ambiance is lost.

      So, in response to the quote (I suspect that consultation with and evaluation by psychology departments may become relevant to game AI in the coming years, given that they're the most comprehensive resource in existence on human behavior), yes, psychology will play a large role as we are able to dedicate more computing resources to AI. This isn't conjecture; I and many other researchers are already consulting with psychologists in designing games.
      • by cbackas (324088)
        The problem there though, is that from the best action movie to the worst romantic comedy the animation is equivalently realistic. Because as you say, the actors are human, so their 'animations' can't help but be realistic. In games, this has hardly been the case. There's still a lot of room for improvement and, at least for me personally, playing a game with well done fluid, realistic animation is more immersive than otherwise. Similarly, I've been quite happy to see more and more realistic physics show up
    • Procedural animation (Score:3, Interesting)

      by PIPBoy3000 (619296)
      The catch, of course, is that all this animation comes at a pretty huge cost in time. It takes teams of animators countless hours to generate all that animation.

      I keep thinking that procedural animation [wikipedia.org] is going to be the next big thing. Instead of rigid animations, we'll see rules governing the position of each limb and how they interact with the world and other characters. It's expensive in terms of CPU processing power, but it allows for a far more natural interaction with the environment. There's
    • by CuteAlien (415982) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @11:56PM (#19332371) Homepage

      An animator can tell you when to make a character blink in order for it to appear more realistic; a psychologist, not so much.
      The problem with the "when make a character blink" is that it only leads to longer and longer lists and situations. An AI programmer prefers to find the "why does the character blink" and implement that. The "when" will follow once that is done.
    • No doubt, the animator animates the calculated emotion. And they actually have great insight into what "looks real" versus what looks creepy/kooky/messed up/just wrong/etc.

      But how do we calculate the emotion? No matter how complex the representation, abstractions are made and details are left out. And the details are what make AI lacking.

      TFA is short but its an excellent commentary on the fundamental issues.

      • Yeah, it was an excellent commentary, but the article writer I believe glossed over the fact that there are people very close by who actually study human movement, interaction, and emotion so that they could do what the programmers are trying to do - create believable characters. I think a lot more good will come from animators working directly with programmers on creating rules for governing the behavior procedurally than if programmers worked with psychologists. As the article writer pointed out - it's no
    • by liloldme (593606)
      Would you have any links that point to the research on the net?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @08:43PM (#19330733)
    The game the writer keeps talking about "Facade," invites the player to play multiple run-throughs. The writer then is creep-out by the "robotic" behavior that surfaces. Since without a time machine it is impossible to view humans in the same way, how do we know we would fair better. Bill Murry's character in the movie "Groundhog Day" seemed to develop a view of his fellow man not different than the view expressed by the writer of this article.
  • . . . do we want in a video game? Do we want game AI that prevents NPC's from running straight into a head shot or AI that causes us to pause out of guilt before making that head shot? Game AI usually refers to the ability of a game to employ varied strategy, adapt to player strategy, and generally be unpredictable without cheating.
    • Do we want game AI that prevents NPC's from running straight into a head shot or AI that causes us to pause out of guilt before making that head shot?
      Well, that depends largely on what kind of game we're playing, doesn't it?
      • Well, if I want a "game" that's intended to be a surrogate for social interaction, then I'd want emotionally responsive AI. Or an MMO.

        The AI you put into a video game or a vaccum cleaner should not be the same as the AI you put into something that's going to assist the sick or elderly.

  • AI/Robotics are barely at the cute level ... long way to go before functional in social settings.

    Game theory and Complex Systems mathematics expressed 3/4D visually will greatly reduce wait time for virtually natural (complex and non-repulsive) AI/Robotics and human collaboration/relationships. From the familiar to the revolting to acceptance we will go over the next (maybe) 30 years.

    http://necsi.org/ [necsi.org]
    http://www.complex-systems.com/ [complex-systems.com]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complex_adaptive_syst em [wikipedia.org]

    Presently the biggest pr
  • by Progman3K (515744) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @10:13PM (#19331453)
    >> [...] the intersection of broken AI and spooky people is coming.

    Ever "talk" with Eliza?
    That's a broken personality right there...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Alsee (515537)
      Ever argue with someone on the internet?

      -
    • I for one can say that Eliza actually improved my social life a lot. You just need to realize that you can do just that in a conversation too.

      Are you stuck in a conversation with a zealot ranting about how BSD is better than Linux, or why Gentoo sucks compared to the Gay Penguin distro? Have to listen to someone ranting about what subtle differences make Manowar the greatest band ever, and Metalica just a bunch of soulless sell-outs? Have to nod through as your GF goes on at great lengths as to what should
  • by big4ared (1029122) on Wednesday May 30, 2007 @10:19PM (#19331485)

    The author is missing the point of the uncanny valley. The point of the uncanny valley is the dip. If you have a non-realistic pixar-like character (The Incredibles), you empathise with them. If you have a more realistic, but not good enough character, the character gets creepier (Polar Express). Then, when it gets really good, you can empathise with them again (Hugo Weaving, i.e. Agent Smith, in the Matrix Sequels).

    The author basically says "AI is hard". But he doesn't make any real argument as to there being some "valley" where as the characters get less realistic they act more believably, and as they get more realistic, they also act more believably. A much more accurate title would be "AI is a steep hill".

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Miniluv (165290)
      Actually I'd say the author just expressed himself poorly. The odd, but quasi-accurate, romp through the spectrum of autism was meant to talk about how creepy people who're 95% like us are because of the 5% missing. This is exactly like the almost real Polar Express Tom Hanks who looked like a zombie rather than a person. He also wrongly highlighted things breaking the illusion, when in fact that lessens the effect as you say.

      I find many cutting edge AIs unnerving to interact with because when they do the w
    • by fractoid (1076465)

      Then, when it gets really good, you can empathise with them again (Hugo Weaving, i.e. Agent Smith, in the Matrix Sequels).
      Dude, I dunno how to break this to you but... Hugo Weaving isn't really an AI. He just looks like it. :P
  • I think we're a long way off from seeing computer controlled characters that aren't merely following scripts. AI in gaming is in its infancy and in many cases is non-existent. I see the term applied to numerous games and inevitably come away underwhelmed by AI that isn't any more sophisticated than what I was seeing in Pac Man. Well, I'll concede AI is more sophisticated nowadays given the more complex nature of games and the fact that they're inhabiting a 3-dimensional space nowadays. Still, that isn't say
    • I agree, the situation might have improved a bit, but quite often I notice that instead of AI, AS (artificial stupidity) would be a better description. I haven't played too many recent games though, so it might be better by now.

      The game I've played most over the last few years is Diablo II LOD, and there is a reason why the mercenary is usually called the moron. In addition, I wonder why the term role-playing game is used to describe that game, and a few more, when there is no ability to role-play at all. I
    • by mstahl (701501)

      This is actually one of those topics I've written a lot about various places (think there's an ancient blog of mine somewhere with a pretty extensive discussion of the future of AI). There's a couple of things going on here. The first is that "artificial intelligence" really isn't a good name for it because it gives people unreasonable expectations of human-like behaviour. Think about it. If gnuchess were truly artificially intelligent, wouldn't it make more realistic mistakes?

      I think people hear "AI" and


    • I think we're a long way off from seeing computer controlled characters that aren't merely following scripts


      http://www.amazon.com/Scripts-People-Live-Transact ional-Analysis/dp/0802132103/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/104-4 262617-6059111 [amazon.com]
  • Few games try to have dynamic AI employed for textual NPC dialog, but Animal Crossing does ... sort of. I remember when I first got the game for the GCN, I was under the assumption that everything they said was dynamically plucked from every letter I wrote. Then after a few weeks I started to realize that it was just mad libs, and their responses to my letter were always generic. I think I played Animal Crossing Wild World longer than the original one (but still not as long as the game expected me to play
  • If like myself you didn't know what hell uncanny valley meant, here's the skinny:

    The Uncanny Valley is a hypothesis about robotics concerning the emotional response of humans to robots and other non-human entities. It was introduced by Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori in 1970, although draws heavily on Ernst Jentsch's concept of "the uncanny," identified in a 1906 essay, "On the Psychology of the Uncanny." Mori's hypothesis states that as a robot is made more humanlike in its appearance and motion, the emotional response from a human being to the robot will become increasingly positive and empathic, until a point is reached beyond which the response quickly becomes that of strong repulsion. However, as the appearance and motion continue to become less distinguishable from a human being's, the emotional response becomes positive once more and approaches human-human empathy levels.

    The wiki [wikipedia.org] has a picture which illustrates the name. Now you can go back to arguing esoteric robot hypotheses.

  • was extremely complex, how do you interact with it. Your input into a game is severely limited. The game knows nothing of you but your keypresses. You'd have to hook yourself up to your computer to get any kind of real interaction. Let it measure your heartrate, body temperature, where your gaze is and your whole face in general. Voice recognition with a good way to measure all the nuances of emotion would go a long way in itself. As it is, the most complex input you can give a game is text, and that convey
  • Black and White was a terrible game but the part that sticks out is the avatar you get to create. You can use the carrot and stick method to train that beastie. When it misbehaves, you get to smack it around. The reaction of this 3D model to getting beaten made me feel ill in a way that your typical shooters did not. I mean, this is a cute little animated critter and the way it reacted to getting hit and the wimpering sounds, it was like watching a mother batter her child. I gave up on the game because it s

Prototype designs always work. -- Don Vonada

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