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The field of Computer Science involves a variety of specialized skills which enables students of the study to find jobs as developers of computer software, as programmers of algorithms and applications to be used internally and externally by their company, and as designers of computer and video games. As technology and computers have come into the forefront in today’s society, the world has prospered economically and also socially in the form of e-mail and online classes. However, computer scientists, as well as the rest of the human race, are still not satisfied by their progress. They still want more.
One aspect of computer science that needs development is the concept of Artificial Intelligence, or AI. AI defined, is the ability for computers to behave like humans. More specifically, human-level AI gives the computer or system the capacity to actually think like humans and, in time, act like humans to the point where people can interact with computers as if they are people themselves. Once this concept develops into a real life commercial product, the world as a whole will benefit from a more efficient and economically productive workforce. Although technology has increased exponentially in the twentieth century, the world has yet to see human-level AI become a reality. There is only the potential for it.
In the article, “Human-Level AI’s Killer Application; Interactive Computer Games,” by John E. Laird and Michael van Lent, the authors argue that there has been a delay in the progress of achieving human-level AI, and the methods of researching it need to be evaluated. However, there is evidence that human-level AI does exist. In the military, certain training programs use simulation, or what AI researchers call “computer generated forces,” in tank training, ground training, and especially pilot training. The computer generates simulated scenarios of real-life events to help train officers without the risk of personal injury or more severely, death. Researchers could use these simulation programs for help in their research to develop human-level AI in their projects, but the problems of on-site research arise as it would be too difficult to obtain access into military sites. Moreover, “there are extremely high costs for AI researchers to participate in this work” (16). Therefore, the article suggests the next best alternative in computer games.
The computer world was revolutionized when computer and video games became a major industry in the latter quarter of the 20th century. People were beginning to see there favorite arcades come home and go straight into their televisions. Video game consoles were introduced by such makers as Atari, Sega, Nintendo, and SNK. As the years have passed, the big dots that represented graphics seen on the screen have now become virtual worlds to the point where it is almost life-like. Current systems include Nintendo GameCube, Microsoft Xbox, and Sony Playstation 2, where the graphics are so sharp a person could almost mistake a video game for a TV program. There are many genres in the computer game world: sports, adventure, role-playing, and what are called god games (the player is in charge of all the happenings in his city or theme park, such as SimCity 3000). In the article, the authors investigate a variety of games such as Doom, Quake, Tomb Raider, Starcraft, Myth, Madden Football, Diablo, Everquest, and Asheron’s Call. They explain that researchers will detect and discover different levels of AI involved in all of the games, thus, using the information obtained they will be able to fully accomplish their goal in discovering human-level AI.
As the article continues, the authors include a list of six or seven reasons why using computer games is the right solution for developing human-level AI.
“First, computer game developers are starting to recognize the need for human-level AI. Synthetic human-level characters are playing an increasingly important role in many genres of computer games and have the potential to lead to completely new genres.
Second, the computer game industry is highly competitive, and a strong component of this competition is technology. AI is often mentioned as the next technology that will improve games and determine which games are hits. Thousands of new computer games are written every year with overall development time averaging nine months to two years, so technological advances sweep through the industry quickly. Already, many computer games are marketed based on the quality of their AI. This field is one in which AI will have a significant impact.
Third, game developers are technologically savvy, and they work hard to stay current with technology. AI programmer is already a common job title on game development teams.
Fourth, the game industry is big. In terms of gross revenue, the computer game industry is bigger than the movie industry.
Fifth, computer game hardware is going to provide cheap, high-end computation power for AI in computer games in the next five years. The newest PC 3D video boards and the next-generation consoles, such as Sony’s Playstation 2 and Microsoft’s X-box, move the entire graphics pipeline off the increasingly powerful central processing unit, freeing it for AI. It is not at all unthinkable that in five years, there will be dedicated AI processors in game consoles–we just have to tell them what we need.
Sixth, computer games need help from academic AI. The current emphasis in computer game AI is on the illusion of humanlike behavior for limited situations. Thus, most, if not all, of the current techniques that are used for controlling game AI’s will not scale up. However, just as computer game graphics and physics have moved to more and more realistic modeling of the physical world, we expect that game developers will be forced into more and more realistic modeling of human characters. Moreover, as researchers, we can get a step ahead of the game designers by using their environments for research on human-level AI.” (15-16)
With these reasons, it would only seem perfectly sound and efficient to use the computer game industry as the major research tool for trying to reach human-level AI. However, as the article explains, the computer game industry does not have a significant amount of research funding. Luckily, the military has been giving away there extra research money in computer generated forces to the computer game industry. Also, the larger computer game makers, such as Electronic Arts and Sony, have already begun computer game AI research funding. In any event, there are still stronger reasons to maintain the computer game industry as the focal point in human-level AI.
I believe that human level AI is definitely necessary in computer games because it would offer a challenge to individuals who master each game they play. To clarify that statement, I, as an example, can’t recall the last time I haven’t completed and mastered every level of a video game. The computer doesn’t offer me any challenge because it logically tries to maneuver its way through the game. Computer game AI is too slow to react to human actions. All it is made to do is use a system of numbers that are encoded by the central processing unit, the part of the system that does all the computations, and analyzes everything around it by going through a list of options that the programmer provides for the computer. Whatever the programmer determines is the correct action for the computer (in simple terms – Is an apple red? Yes or no. The answer is yes, so the programmer would tell the computer yes at that point in the game), the computer would run an action appropriate to the answer (yes – do this, no – do that; the answer was yes, so do this). The entire game is made of millions of those functions. With human-level AI, programmers can omit all that tedious typing, and basically have the computer learn its own solutions, as a human would learn a game and eventually try to master it. Human level AI in video games would present more challenging scenarios and better game play. Overall, it would be a lot more fun.
Computer game AI is nowhere near where computer scientists want to be with human-level AI, but it’s a good start and an easier and more accessible area to study. It can be seen that AI is used as the computer players or opponents act and react to the buttons the human player is hitting. As graphic presentation is becoming more and more human-like, or human-level, it is necessary to have the same human-looking characters behave just as human. The game industry began with such games as chess and checkers using mathematical algorithms and logic as the major factors of the computer’s AI. Now, the industry must move forward through using AI to determine character movement and even speech.
Many may wonder if achieving human-level AI is risky because they have the mentality that computers will surpass human intelligence and eventually take over the world. As a computer scientist, my response would obviously be, “no way! Computers can’t destroy us, we are their makers and they are our pets. Yes, they probably will be more intelligent than us, but we make them and anything we make, we can destroy.” I have come to the conclusion that everyone needs to be aware that technology has still not yet broken through its glass ceiling of potential. When watching such programs as Star Trek think about how possible it really is to have such weapons, teleporters, and spacecrafts. Finally, if and when we, the computer scientists, break through with attaining human-level AI, we will be able to create new and interesting things and make things that nobody could have possibly dreamed. Human-level AI in computer games is just the beginning.
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