He’s still only a demonstration at the moment, but maybe your kids will be hanging out with Milo in a few years’ time:
Milo is the creation of Peter Molyneux, founder of Lionhead Studios and developer of ambitious games such as “Black and White” and the “Fable” series. Those games tried to present players with moral choices that had consequences for their characters, and also tried to play on people’s real emotions.
Molyneux’s latest effort takes advantage of Microsoft’s new full-body controller for Xbox 360, known as Project Natal. The controller’s sensor bar tracks the real-world movements of Xbox players and translates them into the game, which allows them to practically play with Milo in person.
Yup – Milo is an AI avatar of a boy, and (by all accounts) an impressively convincing one. Here’s the demo video:
As LiveScience puts it:
The E3 demo shows Milo responding to a developer’s questions with some fairly convincing facial expressions, body behavior and voice tone. He even “talks” and looks at a real-world drawing, courtesy of the Natal controller scanning it into the game. It’s an impressive display that appears very human-like, and does not evoke any “uncanny valley” sensations of eerie or weird behavior that make people nervous.
Of course, that’s just the recorded demo. A Kotaku editor who got hands-on time with the Milo demo did run into moments of awkwardness, such as Milo waiting for him to say something. But he also described the magic of the virtual boy complimenting him on his blue shirt.
Molyneux continually beats a drum about “science fiction writers never having imagined such a technology”, and I’m pretty sure he’s wrong on that count, but I was genuinely blown away by that video, even after factoring in a degree of cynicism appropriate to a demonstration given at an industry junket.
Now, Milo as a playmate and companion for kids is a marketable deployment of this technology, sure. But wait until the beleaguered porn industry gets hold of the same algorithms…