I think we’ve got an early candidate for futurist talking-point of the week right here: researchers from New York’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed artificial intelligence software that appears to possess a rudimentary “theory of mind” – a cognitive ability not manifest in human children until the age of four or five. [image from NewWorldNotes]
The researchers are using the software to control a Second Life avatar called Eddie:
“Two avatars controlled by humans stand with Eddie next to one red and one green suitcase. One human avatar then leaves and while they are gone the remaining human avatar moves the gun from the red suitcase into the green one.
Eddie is then asked where the character that left would look for the gun. The AI software correctly realises they will look in the red suitcase.”
Doesn’t sound too impressive at first, but it’s being hailed as a significant advance in the capabilities of artificially intelligent software by some – though others are less impressed, as Eddie’s reasoning engine has to be seeded with a simple logical statement before he can pass the test.
Even so, the Rensselaer guys reckon it’ll be great for making games with more realistic computer-controlled enemies … but I imagine there’s a number of people in the assorted military-industrial complexes of the globe thinking waaaay bigger than that right now.