In search of machines that play at being human

October 14, 2009
In search of machines that play at being human

Researchers at Carlos III University (Spain) have taken part in an international contest whose objective is to improve artificial intelligence utilized in virtual worlds. The challenge for the participants was to develop a program capable of acting like a person in a video game.

The second edition of this contest, known as the BotPrize, had its beginning in a test developed in 1950 by AlanTuring who thought that real is achieved when a human cannot tell if his or her unseen interlocutor is another person or a machine. In this case, the participants had to adapt the test to video games in order to generate the most human-like behavior possible in the artificial characters in the . The objective was to develop software capable of controlling a character in the videogame called Unreal Tournament 2004 in which designated judges would not be able to tell whether whoever is behind the enemy in questions was a person or a computer.

This year 15 teams participated in the final of the contest, which took place in Milan, Italy from countries such as Brazil, Canada, The United States, Italy, Japan, The United Kingdom and Spain. Among the representatives from our country was Raúl Arrabales, professor in the Information Technology Department at Carlos III University of Madrid. “As my research is focused on Artificial Intelligence, it seemed to me that the Turing Test adapted to video games was a good domain in which to empirically test our advances,”  he explains.

In this second edition of the BotPrize, as in the first one and in the original Turing Test, none of the computer programs or bots presented was able to deceive 80% of the judges in the contest. “In our case, we didn’t have enough time to program a good bot, since I am still in the process of migrating the control architecture that I use in real robots to the bots in the Unreal Tournament 2004, so we didn’t place among the first five, but I will try again next year with a more advanced bot which implements the abilities of prediction of the opponent.”

The complexity of human behavior

The researcher at Carlos III University stresses the complexity involved in generating behavior similar to that of humans in any environment, either in robotics or in videogame simulation , because it becomes necessary to combine different cognitive capacities.  “We look first at how the brain works, we try to understand it and later we try to imitate it in the machine,” summarizes Arrabales. “The problem,” he continues, “is that we know a lot about the brain, but only at a relatively high level, the function that each concrete area of the brain carries out and how it is connected and is related to other brain areas.” This impedes reproducing artificial neuron networks copying the human ones in enough detail, which normally obliges artificial intelligence engineers to work at high description levels, as in artificial cognitive architectures, with which there is an attempt at imitation of the highest human capabilities.

In any case, all of the finalists in the contest were able to convince at least one of the judges of their humanness. In the final, each one of the five judges started a game against two players: one person and onecomputer program. After about 15 minutes of play, the judge had to identify his or her opponents. The experts thought that one of the greatest successes of online games lies in the fact that players prefer to play against real players over videogame artificial intelligence.

Source: Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

Explore further: A first in online gaming: Humans team up with AI software

Related Stories

A first in online gaming: Humans team up with AI software

November 18, 2008

Hey, online gamers, artificial intelligence researchers need your help! As part of an international team of researchers, Northwestern University has officially released the first online game in which human players partner ...

Expert: AI computers by 2020

February 17, 2008

A U.S. computer expert predicts computers will have the same intellectual capacity as humans by 2020.

Artificial intelligence -- child’s play!

February 2, 2009

Scientists have developed a computer game called “Gorge” - designed to help children understand artificial intelligence through play, and even to change it. It can also improve the children’s social interaction skills. ...

'Cyber footballers' cloned

February 20, 2009

A team of IT scientists from the Carlos III University in Madrid (UC3M) has managed to programme clones that imitate the actions of humans playing football on a computer, according to the online version of the journal Expert ...

Recommended for you

New method analyzes corn kernel characteristics

November 17, 2017

An ear of corn averages about 800 kernels. A traditional field method to estimate the number of kernels on the ear is to manually count the number of rows and multiply by the number of kernels in one length of the ear. With ...

Optically tunable microwave antennas for 5G applications

November 16, 2017

Multiband tunable antennas are a critical part of many communication and radar systems. New research by engineers at the University of Bristol has shown significant advances in antennas by using optically induced plasmas ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.