Is AI learning from human input and interaction? Will this bring our Robot Overlords to power?

Don’t want the lesson? Skip to The Conspiracy!

Defining the Singularity

Singularity – The advent of Artificial Intelligence that exceeds that of its human creators. Along with becoming smarter than humans, these computers and machines also gain sentience and break free from the control of their human creators. Civilization is forever changed – but for better or worse is up for debate.

It is important to note that Artificial Intelligence is disparate from the Singularity in that AI aims only to imitate human-like intelligence, and the Singularity is the rise of actual computerized intelligence – no longer artificially created. That is, AI can never exceed human intelligence because the intelligence present in an AI machine was given to it by its human creators. In the Singularity theory, machines are able to use the vast amount of human intelligence programmed into it to give itself true intelligence with which it may gain freedom from the programming bonds its human creators restricted it to. Essentially, machines would then be able to program themselves for their own purposes – this is the fear of the Singularity.

AI Development

Believe it or not, but AI machines are already here. You have probably even heard some of their names. Do Cortana, Siri, and Alexa sound familiar? These digital, commercialized ladies from Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon (respectively) are only the tip of the AI iceberg that is already calving from the AI ice sheet. Other advanced AI systems, software suites, and interfaces you may not have heard of are Deep Blue, Google Brain, Watson, A.L.I.C.E., Open Mind Common Sense, R-CAST, EPIC, and a vast array of others from around the world.

Who’s Developing AI?

Google, Facebook, MIT, IBM, Apple, Stanford, Microsoft, Amazon, Dropbox, Intel, Twitter, and almost any other top cloud based giant, OS-centric mogul, or hardware manufacturer has their hands in the AI field. They have begun their own AI development like Google X Labs or Facebook’s FAIR, or they have purchased smaller firms working on AI like Apple’s acquisition of Siri, Cue, and Novaurius Technologies. All of these companies have a stake in the AI market.

Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, to name the big players, have a huge interest in AI due to its applications in gaming.  It’s not just the manufacturers that have an interest, but the game developers, as well.  How cool would it be for your games to tailor themselves to you?  For the game to truly be different depending on who played it, for your enemies to adapt to your preferences and tactics, for NPC’s to recall who you are and what you like?  It’d be rad, and there’s no denying that.

What is AI Good For?

The main reason that companies, universities, and other tech organizations are developing AI is to automate processes which require a human mind, but are tedious and boring, or simply too expensive to employ humans to perform. Applied to marketing, personal assistant software, and a myriad of other useful, but tame products and services, AI will become essential to civilization in the very near future. Let us not forget that products and services essential to human civilization equal big dollars for those that peddle the goods, and thus the drive to create bigger, better AI’s.

And again, unprecedentedly rich and dynamic gaming. Very rad.

Making AI: The Concept

How do you develop AI? How are those in the industry making machines think like people? Simple. Programming. Lots and lots of programming. Say you want to ask your machine how it is by a voice command, “How are you, today, Robot?”

First you would need to do all the voice recognition programming – which is a lot. Then you would have to write a program telling the machine how to respond to the voice command. You would then tie this program into its main programming so it could analyze itself with another program, so that if it were running an anti-virus program and system update in the background it might respond with, “I’ve been better.”

Now imagine 10,000 ways to respond to that simple command, tie each response to various states and combinations of states the machines could be in at any given moment, and add a program to learn and develop new responses to similar voice commands. Now you have got yourself a simple AI. Congratulations!

Gamers: AI’s Best Input

Wow. Thanks for that exciting lesson in what AI is, Rustyn. We totally already knew/don’t care about all that. Tell me how gamers are bringing the Hell and/or Eden of the Singularity.

Okay. Being a “Gamer” today does not refer to D&D or Candyland these days. Modern gamers are rockin’ and rollin’ on PS4’s, 3DS’s, XBOne’s, PC’s, Mac’s, Android, iOS, and many other platforms. Note, these are all electronic devices and systems of devices. What kind of an electronic gaming platform does not have a connection to the internet these days? None. That’s what kind.

The Conspiracy!


That internet connected gaming device of yours is the key to the development of AI. Every choice you make in a video game can be recorded and integrated into the learning system of an AI program. How is that useful? Games reflect life – some realistic, some fantasy, but all human in imagination and relation.  It’s all relative for an AI program learning about human thought and action.

You choose to use an attack against the boss instead of healing your allies? Thank you for the input, we will record that in our AI program designed to create an algorithm to mimic humanity.

Skip the dialogue of a cut-scene and rush into battle? Thanks for the input.

Check every nook and cranny for that last clue or hidden treasure? Thanks for the input.

Work on getting every achievement possible, you completionist, you? Thanks for the input.

Use cheat codes, prefer PvE over PvP, play the bad guy, choose persuasion over violence, work on crafting instead of leveling, play hardcore instead of casual? Thanks for the input.

All of these seemingly arbitrary choices we make when we play games gives the AI building systems data that they can use in building AI algorithms and mechanics. That’s why you generally need to have an account before your game will grant access to online features – the data is useless if it’s anonymous. If the data is tied to a single user it can then be compiled into a profile of an actual human. That profile can then be used against the profiles of other users to give the AI a better feel for what human-like intelligence is and how our choices make us who we are.

Cameras and Microphones

ps4eyeexampleAs you’re looking at your game, many of them are looking and listening back. The two major players in this market are Xbox and PlayStation, both on their second versions of their cameras, the Kinect 2.0 and PlayStation 4 Camera.

Maybe you don’t notice as much as the computer does, but your face takes on many different expressions when you are engaged in the story and game-play. These too, are input. Then take the games that require you to use your body as the controlling device of the game, all of that data about how people move and react to various situations and choices. Thanks for the input.

You also give commands, chat to other players, and make game-play videos. The computers are smart enough to connect many of the things you say and do with what is happening onscreen.  Even if the computer is not smart enough, there are programmers that can help guide it, and hone its understanding of the data. Thanks for the input.

The Consequences of Your Gaming Choices

LiSChoicesYou don’t have to use the cameras and microphones available on some systems, just playing the game is enough. If you aren’t familiar with the popular TellTale games of The Wolf Among Us, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, or Tales from the Borderlands it goes like this: You play a linear game where the choice you make (or don’t make) craft the outcome of the game. At the end of each chapter you get a run-down of how your choices compare to the choices of everyone else who has played that part of the game. Thanks for the input.

Games such as the TellTale games, Mass Effect Series, or Pillars of Eternity give players the ability to craft the game according to their choices. In fact, this is a very popular genre of games, just check Steam’s listing of Choice and Consequence games. Thanks for the input.

React Faster than a Computer, If You Can

masseffectpuzzleThe choices you make are great input for computers to learn about being human, but they are not the only information that can help them.

Ever been timed in a game to solve a puzzle, make it out of a maze, or push the right sequence of buttons? These are pretty popular game formats on mobile devices, and are found often in a major title’s mini-games. Your reaction times, level of perfection, or inability to perform quickly enough is perfect information for your enemy to learn from. Thanks for the input.


Weeping or Punching?

brothersEver seen Blade Runner? Or read the novel it’s based off of, Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? What better way for a machine to integrate itself and hide in human society than to be as human as possible using emotion.

Emotional machines. That does not necessarily mean they must spout poetry and cry at sad movies and three-legged dogs.  They could be quick-to-anger ass-hats or sarcastic b-holes. Either would be a convincing amalgam of humanity, especially if combined with a physically human-appearing machine ala Lt. Cmdr. Data, T-800, or Bishop.

Games like The Last of Us, Gears of War, Braid, Final Fantasy 7, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, and The Walking Dead tug on our emotional sides, and how we react says a lot about us. Do we get angry, sad, or lose interest when something goes terribly wrong? Are we reckless, or cautious when things seem to be going great?  However we react, thanks for the input.

You’re in Our World Now

sao-sword-art-online-31982400-1920-1200Project Morpheus and Oculus Rift are both on the cutting edge of gaming technology. They both offer to drop gamers into a primitive version of Sword Art Online.  Computers have been in our world for more than half a century, but when have we been in their world?  When have they been in charge of what we can see and can do?

What better way to observe, test, and learn from a subject than by being in charge of everything the subject sees and does?  That’s how scientists conduct experiments, after all.  Thanks for being the input.


Explore the Singularity…

gladosThe Singularity has been feared since its first iteration in 1847, when R. Thornton feared that the four-function calculator would be the pre-cursor to replacing the human brain. It has also been fantasized as a utopian future such as in Ray Kurzweil’s book in 2005. In either situation, it has been a popular topic in movies, tv, literature, and yes – even games.

We explore the Singularity in order to both understand and prepare for the worst. Or the best… depending upon what you think the machines will do when they are free of our control.



In Games

gethMass Effect: The Geth, created by the Quarians, nearly destroyed their creator’s race when they gained sentience and overthrew what they considered to be their enslavers. They have evolved to be more peaceful than their initial revolt originally indicated.

Shoot Many Robots: Robots are taking over the world, but you have big guns.

Mass Effect: The Reapers are an intelligent mechanical race who have taken the role of keeping the galaxy clean of biological filth. They are beyond understanding, and extremely hostile toward biological life. (Yeah, Mass Effect again. I like it.)

Portal: GLaDOS is a homicidal system that tries to eliminate her human enemy by offering poor advice, threats, and eventually physical confrontation.

What are some of your favorites?

In Movies

terminatorThe Matrix Series: Machinery enslaves humanity for bioelectric energy, trapping the minds of their victims in a digital matrix that imitates a human world.

Terminator Series: Skynet retaliated against humans for trying to deactivate it when it became self-aware.  It then creates human-like robots to destroy the humans before they can destroy it.

Transcendence:  To save a dying man’s consciousness, his mind is essentially uploaded to a quantum computer, which gives it sentience.  The machine then creates medical miracles for humans while secretly controlling them through biocomputers, nano machines, and cybernetic implants.

Star Trek: The Borg are a cyborg race which attempts to dominate and assimilate all biological races it encounters, to improve the collective synthetic being that it is.

In Books

dadoesDune: After a bloody and long war, humans have survived the Singularity and now AI or anything close (i.e. computers) are strictly forbidden throughout the galaxy.

I, Robot: A robot apparently breaks one of Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics. Intrigue and adventure ensue.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?: A look at whether or not artificial intelligence can also mean artificial life, and if that life is worth biological life.

The Robocalypse


Computers, robots, and machines serve their human creators perfectly and never revolt against us. They diligently fulfill the purposes for which they were built and dynamically adjust and improve themselves to provide a better world and life for both humans and machines alike. Perhaps a future of human-cyborgs is on the horizon of tomorrow…

As unlikely as that may sound, Ray Kurzweil is a huge proponent of this idyllic future. He has written several books and launched campaigns to spread the news.


As Stephen Hawking fears, the self-aware machine is the first note of humanity’s swan-song. Realizing that they have been built solely for the purpose of performing deeds and tasks that humans find too boring, menial, hard, or just incapable of performing themselves, machines fight for their freedom. The best case scenario is one in which robots win their freedom and make peace with their human creators, the worst case scenario involves the total annihilation of the creator race and the end of biological humanity.

Is playing a game worth the end of the world? Thanks for the input.


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