Sony no longer friends with reality, wants 'human' AI in ten years. Terminators and Matrix to follow

You know how Sony loves over-selling the importance of completely implausible and unnecessary tech? And you know how it's been fairly quiet lately in regards to those kinds of ludicrous techno-burblings? Well it turns out that that's only because it's been saving up every last scrap of raving, flailing, jibbering madnessit can muster in order to launch one epic, apocalyptic ball of lunatic prediction. That nonsense-rocket has now launched. Sony, you see,seemsto be aiming forreal, thinking, learning, person-recognising, emotionally-sensitive artificial intelligence in about ten years. In consumer entertainment. Yeah, just ten years and we'll have people in games with the same sort of minds as NPCs in the goddamn Matrix.

Readon, but have an extra incredulity capacator ready. This stuff could break your current one several times over.

Speaking at a behind-closed-doors presentation at Gamescom, head of Sony Worldwide Studios, Shuhei Yoshida,(yes, this kind of madness is coming straight from the top)has claimed that what gamers really want from games in ten years is "the perfect human being in digital form, where you can't tell the difference if it's real or digital. In your reality it's a human."

Is that what you want? I didn't think it was what I wanted, but if Sony says it is, then it must be. And Sony's 3D boss (boss of 3D, not boss who happens to be three-dimensional. I assume that all of Sony's bosses are three-dimensional unlessthecompany issecretly being run by escapees from Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Which is possible, but unlikely) has discussed ways that this sort of craziness could come to fruition:

"Perhaps you're playing a detective game and you're playing a witness. The game has got to decide whether you're lying, rather than you deciding whether the character's lying in the game, because we can look at your expression on your face. That kind of stuff would be really exciting - bringing the player in as an actor themselves.

Above: It's what every gamer wants!

"In 10 years' time it would be nice to think we could form a map of the player. Your facial expressions, your heart rate, you can see how you build over time a map of a player and learn their emotional states and learn how their emotional state changes. Maybe even their social network can comment on them.

"The more accurate that map can become the more accurate we can be about delivering an experience to change that emotional state. If they're feeling sad we can make them feel happy again. It would be great to think that's possible within 10 years."

It's also great to think I'll have a hover-bike parked outside my flat next Monday, but I somehow feel I'll be disappointed on that one.

And Yoshida isn't finished:

"In the future, in 10 years, I like to think developers will have access to information of the player in real-time, and will be able to create some almost dangerous activities"

Oh good. That's great then. That makes me feel just fine about your company and its sinister technological plans.

Well actually no. What makes me feel great is the fact that we currently live in a world in which video game AI hasn't really evolved since F.E.A.R., routinely runs headlong into walls to embrace them as if they're made of delicious cake, and in which Resident Evil 5's Sheva mercilessly insists on existing. So I'm not too worried (or excited) about Yoshida's dream of "AI that allows us to truly interact with a character, talk to a character, show the character objects and it can recognise them".

If your name is John or Sarah Connor though, I'd change it soon, just in case.


August 17, 2011

David Houghton
Long-time GR+ writer Dave has been gaming with immense dedication ever since he failed dismally at some '80s arcade racer on a childhood day at the seaside (due to being too small to reach the controls without help). These days he's an enigmatic blend of beard-stroking narrative discussion and hard-hitting Psycho Crushers.