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Microsoft Shows Off 'Milo' Virtual Human 270

Posted by samzenpus
from the patch-often dept.
adeelarshad82 writes "At TED Global in Oxford, Microsoft released a video showing off its 'virtual human' technology, named Milo, designed for the company's hands-free Xbox 360 motion controller called Kinect. Milo is built to react to people's emotions, body movements, and voice, allowing players to interact with the virtual character. It was built using artificial intelligence developed by Lionhead studios, along with undisclosed technology from Microsoft. According to games designer Peter Molyneux, the game exploits psychological techniques to make a person feel that Milo is real. Each Milo character will be unique because every player's interaction with the virtual character will sculpt the type of virtual person Milo will evolve to become."
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Microsoft Shows Off 'Milo' Virtual Human

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  • Frightening (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Fwipp (1473271) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @08:07PM (#32908222)

    Honestly, I don't know whether this is the Uncanny Valley manifesting, but that kid just creeps me out.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @08:12PM (#32908266) Journal
      Don't worry, the "undisclosed Microsoft technology" will allow him to whisper 'why won't you... Love ME?' into your ear just as you are on the verge of falling asleep...

      They want to be sure that none of their next-gen hardware survives user-inflicted destruction long enough to RRoD.
      • by SilverHatHacker (1381259) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @08:26PM (#32908384)
        Why won't I love ME? Because it was a terrible operating system. Why do you ask?
        • by hairyfeet (841228) <{bassbeast1968} {at} {gmail.com}> on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @10:24PM (#32909060) Journal

          You know, I still think Gates owes all of us that was stuck with that turkey an apology and a copy of XP Home. Where is my apology you rich bastard!!! Just as I think the Ballmer monkey should do the right thing and say he was sorry for Vista and give those stuck with that loser at least Windows 7 Starter just to say he was sorry. WHERE IS MY APOLOGY YOU FAT BASTARD! And WTF is it with /. and the Gates borg? The man hasn't been head of the company in years. Shouldn't they switch to a chair throwing Ballmer Monkey by now?

          As for TFA, I can see some real world applications for this tech. Imagine a virtual teacher with infinite patience for those with learning disabilities. you could use this tech to tailor a learning plan for the individual without the incredibly high cost of private tutors. Done right I could see this really helping kids.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by pspahn (1175617)
            Haha, give autistic kids a robot for a teacher, that'll sort them out. LMAO!
        • Re:Frightening (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @10:56PM (#32909262)
          The purpose of ME was to make XP look good, just as the purpose of Vista was to make 7 look good.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by 56ker (566853)

          The truth of the matter is; although we're just watching a video. Personally, I'd prefer to go down to the park, river or sea and go fishing; interacting with a real person rather than a fantasy boy.

          I was born at the start of the 1980s. I got my first computer (Commodore 64) for my 7th birthday. I've spend a lot of my life in front of a screen, growing up with video games as a pastime, then working in computer troubleshooting and website design.

          I also play music professionally. The latter I prefer as you ge

    • If Milo can't think for himself then he's nothing close to a virtual human.

      • by Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @10:07PM (#32908960)

        Microsoft wouldn't give Milo the capacity to think for himself.

        If he could, there's the chance he might pick Firefox.

      • If Milo can't think for himself then he's nothing close to a virtual human.

        But he would be part of Fox News' target demographic.

      • Re:Frightening (Score:5, Insightful)

        by delinear (991444) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @05:56AM (#32911052)

        I love the irony of your comment and your sig:

        If Milo can't think for himself then he's nothing close to a virtual human.

        --

        You can lead a man with reason but you can't make him think.

        Plenty of actual humans can't/don't think for themselves, so why is it a necessary requirement for a virtual human?

    • by gmezero (4448) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @08:32PM (#32908428) Homepage

      Let's see... what kind of horrible things to people do to Sims? Put them in a house with no toilet? Strand them in pool without a ladder? etc... I shudder at the abuse we'll see attempted and if this thing learns from it's interactions. Ick.

      • by bertoelcon (1557907) * <[berto.el.con] [at] [gmail.com]> on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @08:46PM (#32908538)
        If it remembers people will have to get more creative as it learns those old tricks.
      • by Stan Vassilev (939229) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @08:53PM (#32908588)

        Let's see... what kind of horrible things to people do to Sims? Put them in a house with no toilet? Strand them in pool without a ladder? etc... I shudder at the abuse we'll see attempted and if this thing learns from it's interactions. Ick.

        That demo looks cooked. Microsoft couldn't get basic speech to text to work reliably, they'll need to work harder to convince people that are sitting on a working AI that'll also interact freely with people as was demoed.

        Also, I almost can imagine you eating delicious tortured and slaughtered animal stake while you were writing about the human rights of basic software programs.

        People have no perspective on things at all.

        • by Kenoli (934612) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @09:04PM (#32908652)

          Microsoft couldn't get basic speech to text to work reliably

          My thoughts exactly.

          Probably straight prerendered video.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Not to mention that he looks AT her which means she would have seen him looking off to the right just as we do. That is unless that TV was actually a hologram. Wow. Microsoft really is ahead of the game!!

          • by kjart (941720)

            My thoughts exactly. Probably straight prerendered video.

            Keep in mind that the video in the article is over a year old (E3 2009). Presumably, the demo that happened at TED this year was more sophisticated - it's unfortunate that there doesn't seem to be video of that yet.

        • by nmb3000 (741169)

          Microsoft couldn't get basic speech to text to work reliably

          For what it's worth, the issues with Vista's STT demonstration were explained [msdn.com] pretty soon after the incident. Given the nature of the problems, most people at the time anticipated a training/hardware issue. Of course, that doesn't change how funny it was :)

          As it happens, Vista and Win7's voice recognition is actually pretty good for software bundled with the OS.

        • by rjames13 (1178191)

          That demo looks cooked.

          It looks so good because it isn't actually developed by Microsoft. It is from the famous sim developer Peter Molyneux. He's been working on this stuff for decades.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by KDR_11k (778916)

            Peter Molyneux is known for empty promises because he makes features up as he talks about them. When he tells you about this great new feature in the game chance is that's the first time the development team hears of it.

      • by nmb3000 (741169)

        I shudder at the abuse we'll see attempted and if this thing learns from it's interactions. Ick.

        It puts the lotion on it's skin...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Johann Lau (1040920)

        I remember chatting a few years ago with jabberwacky [jabberwacky.com] (which basically is "just" what people have been feeding into it for decades) and being unsettled by how cruel and outright evil it seemed... then I realized, oh, this is how (some) people treat a bot: cruel and condescending.

        I see absolutely no point in this... we need to interact with people, not establish a feedback loop and surround our selves with virtual bullshit...

    • Watch the video. Clare asks him if he's finished his homework and he hangs his head.

      Then he talks about wanting to write in his journal.

      I'm thinking of a contest. What can you turn him into? Does he cut himself? Does he start fires? How about racist, given that he can recognize faces on a web cam.

      • I'm thinking of a contest. What can you turn him into? Does he cut himself? Does he start fires? How about racist, given that he can recognize faces on a web cam.

        Dunno about what you said, but every time Bill Gates showed up in front of the camera, Milo would run and cry. Must be some bug.

        If I had the game, first thing that pops to mind, is shooting a "Milo switches to Mac" ad.

        Also, given Milo can apparently do homework, I'll just teach him C++ and let him work for me under threat of cutting the power off.

        Staged demos aside, though.

        I wonder how easy it'd be to interact with that thing in real life. If I asked him "How was your day" and all it can say back (in a dist

    • Honestly, I don't know whether this is the Uncanny Valley manifesting, but that kid just creeps me out.

      That's not the Uncanny Valley causing it. It's your basic animal fear that your own species has just been made obsolete by some basic gaming software.

      But I might be wrong. You can test it. Get the DVD of Pixar's "The Incredibles" and play some. Do you feel the impending doom, or you're entertained? If the former, it's the Uncanny Valley (also check that with your doctor).

      As for the fear-inducing-AI in the demo: it's fake, so you'll be able to sleep well tonight.

  • by EWAdams (953502) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @08:09PM (#32908232) Homepage

    He's a video game character. I don't want him to be real. Him being real would miss the point entirely.

    • Exactly. There's no room for realistic video game characters. Only cartoon-like action warriors shouting one-liners as they mow down Nazis please!

      • There's no room for realistic video game characters. Only cartoon-like action warriors shouting one-liners as they mow down Nazis please!

        Keep it down or Milo might report you for a Godwin's law violation.

        • Godwin's law doesn't state that Nazis can't be brought up, it just states that they will be brought up eventually. Without any judgement on that, either, the whole "if you bring up the Nazis you lost the argument" bullshit is made up and can be cured with a simple use of google, instead of just reurgitating it ad nauseum.... from wikipedia.

          The rule does not make any statement about whether any particular reference or comparison to Adolf Hitler or the Nazis might be appropriate, but only asserts that the lik

          • by tepples (727027)

            Godwin's law doesn't state that Nazis can't be brought up

            But Milo doesn't know that.

      • by arth1 (260657)

        Exactly. There's no room for realistic video game characters. Only cartoon-like action warriors shouting one-liners as they mow down Nazis please!

        Contrary to your desires, the nazis were very real.

    • Did the Sims miss the point entirely? I would think the popularity of a game built on sentient somewhat realistic characters would prove otherwise. All he is, is a 3D chat bot that reacts to you physically instead of what you type. I'd hardly call it a video game, personally.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @08:10PM (#32908242) Journal
    Can you imagine being the poor bastard at Lionhead responsible for making sure that these "virtual humans" can exhibit realistic suffering responses to griefers, gropers, and every other ghastly atavism that the Kinect users of the world will allow to roam free when they know that there are no rules and no consequences?

    (Incidentally, I bloody well hope that Lionhead has had some time to learn a thing or two since Black & White. The "AI" in that game managed to suck every ounce of joy out of being a malevolent deity, something that I wouldn't have believed possible.)
    • by sg_oneill (159032) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @09:25PM (#32908768)

      What are you talking about. The AI was awesome. Once I started rewarding my ape for Lighting its shit on fire, and also rewarding it for throwing its shit at villagers, it put 1+1 together and innovated unholy projectile flame turds.

      I only wish my horse on red read redemption would come up with that instead of "jumping of cliffs and dying" :(

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        You lucky bastard.

        No matter how many times I tried to teach my creature how to inspire belief through classic "good cop/bad cop" techniques, he never learned how to set the villages children on fire, throw their burning bodies at the village, setting it on fire, and then put out the fire with magical rain.(since the villager AI model rewarded you with more belief for giving them things that they needed, you could get more belief per unit manna by hurting them, and then magically repairing some of the dam
  • I think I'll stick with Seaman for the Dreamcast, thanks.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I think that seaman will stick with you
      • by tepples (727027)

        I think that seaman will stick with you

        No, that'd only happen in Soviet Russia. And the only popular video game that I can think of that came out of that regime was Tetris.

      • by Yvan256 (722131)

        I think that seaman will stick to you.

        FTFY

  • by bobetov (448774) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @08:11PM (#32908256) Homepage

    Microsoft Bob lives!

    And takes up the awesome responsibility of being the latest hyped MS product to utterly fail. Sheesh.

    • You don't understand - virtual humans can be tailored to your every need ... in this case Microsoft is hemorrhaging customers - this way they can create their own who wont depart the sinking ship .... billions and billions of virtual customers running in spare cycles on the cloud, very very cheap, and they never report bugs ....
  • oh boy (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @08:12PM (#32908260)
    Oh boy! Clippy comes to the living room!
  • Uhhh... old news. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Irick (1842362) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @08:12PM (#32908262)
    Seriously old. I saw this at the MS keynote last year.
    • Might the news be that Molyneux is finally planning to flesh out Milo into a game? "He also said the technology is still in development and Microsoft has no plans to release it, but hinted that the game was designed to be used for millions of people and therefore could one day become a commercial product."
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Ziekheid (1427027)

      Yep, VERY OLD. Video dates from october 2009..

  • Cheese whiz (Score:3, Insightful)

    by starfishsystems (834319) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @08:15PM (#32908292) Homepage
    Why does Microsoft not get that stuff like this is seriously cheesy?
    • Re:Cheese whiz (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rainmouse (1784278) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @08:18PM (#32908314)
      Cheesy? I find this interactive grooming simulator nothing but sinister.
    • Re:Cheese whiz (Score:5, Informative)

      by Dremth (1440207) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @08:43PM (#32908512)
      Not only is it cheesy (and INCREDIBLY old news), the video in TFA is a fake. Proof: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFAK8ubYtZE [youtube.com]
      • Not only is it cheesy (and INCREDIBLY old news), the video in TFA is a fake. Proof: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFAK8ubYtZE [youtube.com]

        I love the detective work on detecting the subtle visual clues that it's fake.

        I guess Microsoft (or anyone in the world at all) having casually developed this AI, speech recognition and a virtually flawless speech synth, solely for the purpose of making a casual role-playing console game, doesn't seem suspicious to anyone.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @09:34PM (#32908814)

          They were trying to make a virtual girlfriend for Ballmer.

          Please, don't ask why it's a little boy.

          That's it. All the truth.

        • by Torodung (31985)

          It's a "proof of concept" for the patent office. You don't have to have a working prototype to demonstrate that you have a vision. If Molyneux is really on board, this is almost certainly vaporware.

          I wonder if this can be installed in a "Big Ass Table [youtube.com]?"

          --
          Toro

          (*eye roll*)

      • by Lando (9348)

        I guess the key phrase for me here is "built using artificial intelligence developed by Lionhead studios." Frankly, after seeing the shift that Lionhead produced with Black & White, compared to all the hype of what the game was supposed to be, ie major breakthrough in AI, I've just come to dismiss anything coming from Lionhead as just a bunch of marketing BS.

        Thanks for the link to the video, it's quick and points out obvious flaws. I suppose at least this time Microsoft wasn't under oath when they pr

    • Some of it was seriously cheesy, but some of it was amazing ideas (most revolve around extra interactivity possible with a virtual world when you add a camera to the mix). Amazing ideas from Microsoft?! Some other company than Microsoft is likely going to really make something really interesting with this stuff.

  • "Each Milo character will be unique because every player's interaction with the virtual character will sculpt the type of virtual person Milo will evolve to become."

    Goodness, don't let 4chan loose on this one. We'll have another Bucket.

    • by tepples (727027)

      Goodness, don't let 4chan loose on this one. We'll have another Bucket.

      Oh wait, I has a bucket [ihasabucket.com].

      If you're curious about the Bucket that The Archon V2.0 was referring to, it's a chatbot [encycloped...matica.com] that spouts nothing but 4chan memes after talking to almost nobody but 4chan users. But as I understand it, if you teach your copy of Milo all 4chan's memes, someone else's copy of Milo won't necessarily learn them.

      • But as I understand it, if you teach your copy of Milo all 4chan's memes, someone else's copy of Milo won't necessarily learn them.

        Ah, that's good. Last thing we need is a crowdsourced AI.

  • Entertainment! Education! Medicine! Pornography! The mind boggles!

    .
  • Oh, I get it.. Black & White 3. I can't wait for Milo to hold his bowel movements the way a toddler holds its breath.

  • I saw this video in 2009 when it first came out... the Article didn't seem to really have any new information.

    What am I missing?

  • by unity100 (970058)
    not their core business, huh ? nice going ...
  • but... (Score:2, Informative)

    by shar303 (944843)

    ...the video is very old and faked.

    watch the way that milo looks directly at the girl around the 40 second point. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8aUhsrM0sA [youtube.com] explains things.

    Peter Molyneux has ceased to be taken seriously by most people when it comes to his rather crappy games - perhaps he has realized he has nothing to lose and has decided its time to engage in outright deception.

  • by RafaelAngel (249818) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @08:54PM (#32908592)

    1) Walk around naked in Milo's presence. How would he react? Is Milo into women or men?

    2) Drink beer in the presence of Milo. Would Milo care for some and if yes, can Milo become drunk?

    3) Mess with Milo's logic.

    4) Scare Milo by saying that it was created by Microsoft and therefore is evil.

    5) Teach Milo to fart.

    6) Tell Milo he is a pirated version.

    7) Convert Milo to a religion.

    • by Kenoli (934612)

      Tell Milo he is a pirated version

      Harsh.

    • This leaves out the obvious question, "Will all Natal owners in Australia automatically be brought up on child molestation charges?"

    • by EdIII (1114411)

      8) Paint Milo's face Blue when he is bad.

    • 1) Is it important to you how Milo reacts? Why is it important to you?
      2) Why do you say drink beer in Milo's presence? Can you elaborate on that?
      3) Does mess with Milo's logic bother you?
      4) Why do you feel Microsoft is evil? Can you elaborate on that?
      5) You are being a bit negative.
      6) Can you elaborate on a pirated version?
      7) You are being a bit negative.

      It will be a contest to see who drives whom crazy first.
  • by NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @09:22PM (#32908742)
    Of course all I could think about when he was on the doc was "Wow he's annoying, I want to shove him off into the pond."
    • by iammani (1392285)
      Can agree more, thats exactly what I thought too. Mods, parent is a +5 Informative, not Funny
  • and they're using it to make this "game"?

  • by pdxp (1213906) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @09:56PM (#32908914)
    People might think it's funny when their AI friend has a funny accent, but it's cheaper to outsource these things to India! I assure you people will be amazed and perplexed by how wonderful this AI is, but maybe curious why it has an hourly cost....
  • Each Milo character will be unique because every player's interaction with the virtual character will sculpt the type of virtual person Milo will evolve to become."

    So what happens if some one Charlie Manson-esque get one of these? Does it report to MS that you're totally bat-shit crazy? If so, does MS have an obligation to report this? Just wondering...

  • by urusan (1755332) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @10:09PM (#32908976)

    If I turn off Milo, does he die?

    What if I turn him off and then never play with him again?

    What if I delete him?

    Is it unethical to mass produce thousands of Milos that will live short (often abused) lives before they are forgotten or deleted?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ultranova (717540)

      Is it unethical to mass produce thousands of Milos that will live short (often abused) lives before they are forgotten or deleted?

      Is that really any different from regular humans?

  • It was built using artificial intelligence developed by Lionhead studios, along with undisclosed technology from Microsoft.

    Artificial intelligence and undisclosed technology coming together? There's something very familiar, and unsettling, about this...

    BRYANT
    Mr. Dyson? The material teams wants to run another test on the uh... on it.
    DYSON
    Yup. Come on. I'll get it.
    Dyson produces an unusual-looking KEY from his pocket as they stride through the lab. Bryant has to hustle to keep up.
    BRYANT
    Listen, Mr. Dyson,

  • Everyone keeps mentioning examples of how this is old news that aren't more than 10 or 15 years old. Try 25 years old [wikipedia.org].

  • by mykos (1627575) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @02:08AM (#32910096)
    I'm old enough to remember every promise Molyneux has ever made. I had subscriptions to EGM and Next Gen, so I'm well-read in the subject of 1990s video game lore right?

    He talks a big talk, but either he misjudges his creation or the technology just isn't there to realize every dream he's had.
  • When it sounds, acts and looks like Cortana (from Halo 2 preferably) I'll think about it.

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