Why I'm Getting Tired Of The Term 'Artificial Intelligence' Being Used (When We All Know They're Not) In The Video Game Industry
Artificial Intelligence - n. (Abbr. A.I.) 1. The ability of a computer or other machine to perform those activities that are normally thought to require intelligence. 2. The study and design of an intelligent agent, which is a system that perceives its environment and takes action(s) that maximize its chances of success.
Running in front of someone about to pop off a target with a sniper rifle is not very intelligent. Neither is running into a roiling gas fire to climb a ladder where they're all alone while a gibbering, clawing horde of zombies surround and then incapacitates them. Neither is standing there after I've thrown a grenade, get hit by the shrapnel, and then complain to me about how that just hurt. Neither is going down a gravel road, pausing, looking around, taking a near 90 degree cut into the woods, stopping, turning back around, and then resuming running down that same gravel road when all it could have done was continue to walk that straight damn line. That is not very intelligent.
So to be perfectly frank and honest, I'm tired of listening and hearing and reading about some developer and/or creator misusing the term "Artificial Intelligence" to describe their character, non playable character, or enemy behavioral "quirks" in video games. Intelligence suggests that they have the ability and the capacity to learn and grow and adapt; to the environment, to player actions, to the entire game they're in in general. But they don't. They repeat the same functions, the same phrases, the same overall pathways throughout the game(s) that they're in. There might be subtle changes made here and there, due in part to player actions, but overall, they're not intelligent. In fact, they're incredibly dumb.
And it irks me to no end that the term "A.I." has become something of the norm now to describe any number of unique but ultimately repetitive behavioral quirks in a game's programming. Just because a game's characters can randomly crack a joke, take cover without you telling them to, reload an empty weapon at an ammo dump, heal themselves after a certain set amount of damage taken or heal you after you take a bad hit (normally why they're just standing there in the background doing absolutely nothing), that does not make them intelligent.
That simply makes them pre-programmed to act in a human like manner to a preset list of variables the player(s) might encounter during the game.
To be honest, I don't know if we'll ever really crack the code of artificial life. To have the real Deus Ex Machina happen. Because the first thing you'd have to do is teach the program, computer, mainframe, robot, what-have-you, all about human emotion, inflection and mannerisms. You need to tell them, teach them, show them things. Like what loss is, what love is, the difference between justice and revenge, the difference between killing something to defend yourself and murdering something because you're broken in the head. Or something as simple as showing them that it's not a good idea to be standing at the podium roasting someone.......at their funeral.
In my opinion I don't think we'd have the patience to teach or, in some aspects, the capacity to teach an artificial intelligence these things without some form of bias; religious and spiritual, racial, sexual, you name it. I think that we're too individualized by race and sex and religion and personal opinions and various racisms to effectively be non-judgmental and create a perfectly balanced system that allows it to form its own opinions, its own beliefs, its own truly free will.
Just because a game's characters can randomly crack a joke.......that does not make them intelligent.
I also don't think that having a true A.I. running around in the game would be a good idea. I mean, first and foremost, they'd break the game's immersiveness on so many levels; the mysteries and plot twists of the game's story, the hidden treasures scattered across the various chapters/levels, and the fact that it would probably vie against you to be the game's protagonist since it knows intimately the in's and out's of the entire system. Where would the fun be in a game where the various NPC elements are leading you to every nook-and-cranny-secret in the game, hand-waving you through tough fights by telling you what to do, instead of letting you problem solve the how's and where's and why's?
A game's artificial creation, which I think should be the term to use when you're describing the things that the developers are actually describing, I think has to be a little bit of an idiot to make the player(s) feel needed. To make them feel important. I really don't see myself enjoying a game where I play second fiddle, waiting for my chance to be useful to the lead A.I. character. All the while I sit there and wait. And wait and wait...... Not to mention contemplate why I just wasted sixty dollars of my paycheck for this....."experience."
I mean, by our nature, we want the cool, sexy A.I. The James Bond of circuitry and silicon. We dream and fantasize and wait for that moment to happen. That one day we'll create something that looks and acts a lot like this.........
But in reality, I think what we'd really get (and what we are currently getting) will probably be something more like this...........
You need to tell them, teach them, show them things. Like what loss is, what love is......that it's not a good idea to be standing at the podium roasting someone.......at their funeral.
So guys. Really. Just because your enemy behavior programs, your NPC modification routines, your limited adaptability pathways or maybe a little of all of these things might make these characters act and respond in a more and more human-like manner as time goes on, that does not make them or the game smart. I don't have any problem with all of you using the term Artificial when touting your game's new engine/tech to describe these little behavioral quirks that another developer might not be using. Just please stop putting the word Intelligent after it. Because it, and they, are far, far from.
In fact, and not to sound too insulting about it, but using the term like you are, in the way you are, is making you all look a little....well...DUMB.
A.I. - Artificial Idiots
Blog entry posted by wastelander75, Aug 16, 2012.