A few years back, when the Milo tech demo made the rounds, it was met with a mix of curiosity and confusion. While pet simulators like Nintendogs were adopted by the masses, and Seaman is a cult classic, the idea of interacting with a lifelike virtual human, a child no less, it seemed to alienate more people than it intrigued.
On my current project, I’m working with social simulation software to create interactive prose fiction where the characters in the story react in real time. The medium is different, but for me, the goal is similar to project Milo’s — to create the illusion of life; to lull the player into forgetting that they are interacting with an AI. Early days, but a lot of fun, and the fact that it’s prose and not an avatar helps blunt the uncanny valley.
Ignore for now the challenge of how to make smarter AI characters. What I would be interested in talking about at Horseshoe is what new kinds of games and game-like experiences could we create around characters with all the expressiveness, vulnerabilities and spontaneity of human beings. And what are the ethical implications as empathy with AI characters increases alongside freedom of interaction?