AP reports that an RPI group is developing a robot for Second Life, Researchers teach ‘Second Life’ avatar to think. Actually, it’s a robot with the brain of a four-year old pre-schooler.
“Edd Hifeng barely merits a second glance in “Second Life.” A steel-gray robot with lanky limbs and linebacker shoulders, he looks like a typical avatar in the popular virtual world. But Edd is different.
His actions are animated not by a person at a keyboard but by a computer. Edd is a creation of artificial intelligence, or AI, by researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, who endowed him with a limited ability to converse and reason. It turns out “Second Life” is more than a place where pixelated avatars chat, interact and fly about. It’s also a frontier in AI research because it’s a controllable environment where testing intelligent creations is easier.
“It’s a very inexpensive way to test out our technologies right now,” said Selmer Bringsjord, director of the Rensselaer Artificial Intelligence and Reasoning Laboratory.”
There’s more information in an article on Virtual World News. Apparently the goal is not to build interesting Second Life Bots using a variety of hacks, but to demonstrate human-like behaviour using more principled techniques.
“RPI is looking, initially, at a “theory of mind” for children, specifically with a false-belief test. In the real world, a child (age 4) would be shown a person placing a teddy bear in a cabinet. When the first person leaves, a second person would move the bear to another spot, like a refrigerator. When asked where the first person will look for the bear, they usually answer with the refrigerator due to a lack of understanding of other people. In Second Life, an automated theorem prover and procedures for converting conversational English into formal logic make up the brain of “Eddie,” the four-year-old avatar. When posed the above problem, Eddie responded as the human child would.”
Here’s a video of Eddie in action.