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Microsoft Shows Off 'Milo' Virtual Human 270

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 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.

  • 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.
  • by Servaas ( 1050156 ) <[captivayay] [at] []> on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @08:23PM (#32908362)
    He's famous for his grand claims. Edge Magazine, a UK mature gaming magazine, use to do couple of pages with the man in them every so often. And I remember how he fabled up Fable 1 into grand momentous game that would revolutionize Action RPG's yet failed to impress anyone. Likewise with the game Black & White that supposed to push new heights for the god genre.
  • by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @08:41PM (#32908506) Homepage Journal
    not their core business, huh ? nice going ...
  • 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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @09:10PM (#32908696)

    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 Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @09:32PM (#32908804)

    If so, they should promote him!

  • 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: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.
  • by Johann Lau ( 1040920 ) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @12:32AM (#32909740) Homepage Journal

    I remember chatting a few years ago with jabberwacky [] (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...

  • Re:Psychology? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Johann Lau ( 1040920 ) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @01:02AM (#32909874) Homepage Journal

    so instead of studying actual humans, we try to make something just as complex as them, that behaves identically, and then study that? even if it WAS possible, it seems like a gigantic waste of time to me. also: to make something that behaves like humans we'd have to understand ourselves/each other first....

  • 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.
  • Re:Frightening (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 56ker ( 566853 ) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @05:32AM (#32910936) Homepage Journal

    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 get a reaction from an audience, whether singing or clapping. A computer can't provide the human touch yet, but artificial intelligence has come a long way from the robot dogs, a robot violin player and Sony's robot that can walk.

    Sooner or later, we'll move beyond a computer's AI capacity being like a child or baby. What will we do when artificial intelligences have a similar neural capacity to humans? Will we treat artificial life as comparable to human; or continue to see human life as more important?

    More of society's decisions are being taken by machine, not by people (although people programmed the machines). Where will it all end? Will we have robots like those that Isaac Asimov described with laws drummed into them not to harm people? Will we explore space, the universe and the deep ocean with artificial intelligences in places we can't go? Will we put machines at work to come up with cures to cancer, diseases or social problems eg poverty or famine?

    Or in the end would we prefer our societies to be governed by people as our political systems have for generations? What will we do when artificial intelligences get physical bodies and they can pass the Turing Test?

    All these are things that may come to pass in my lifetime; alternatively we may just screw things up and make the human race extinct by complete ecosystem collapse (or at least enough that the human race is made extinct).

    That's why manned colonies on the Moon and Mars are essential; as a failsafe in case Planet Earth should face a major disaster (meteroid strike, global warming, biodiversity problems, problems affecting human fertility).

  • 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 fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday July 15, 2010 @10:14AM (#32913050) Journal
    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 damage, than you could by just helping them twice. Totally fucked up; but actually seems to be a pretty accurate model, given how things like abusive relationships, hazing, and just about every major religion, actually work).

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"