AI Bots in Video Games and Virtual Worlds

AI Bots in Video Games and Virtual Worlds

Usually when we talk about situated agents as the target of the research in Artificial Intelligence or Machine Consciousness, we think about physical agents, like typical autonomous robots. One of the reasons why we tend to use physical robots as part of our experimental setup is because we believe embodiment plays a key role both in intelligence and consciousness.

Because of the limitations in cost and time, during development phases we are used to using simulation tools in order to quickly test our hypotheses. However, the final target is always the physical robot and its application into the real world. At least that is the obvious conclusion in the field of robotics.

But, what about final AI applications that only live within virtual worlds? Do they deserve less attention from AI research fields? In recent years we are seeing a growing interest in applications which reside entirely within virtual worlds and video games. Some relevant examples are Second Life and World of Warcraft. I personally believe the success of these products is rooted in the fact that they provide new ways of interaction between humans (players, colleagues, partners, etc.). We currently lack the same level and richness of interaction when it comes to AI bots (we use the term AI bot to refer to autonomous virtual agents that are controlled by an AI program).

From my point of view, there is no doubt that AI bots are a new example of situated agents. Whether they can be considered embodied or not is another question. Anyhow, we could say that they are embodied in terms of the simulated physical laws enforced by the engine which generates the corresponding virtual world or video game.