Opulent Artificial Intelligence: Expressive Systems & Bad Players

It must have been five or six years ago now that at a Lost Levels in the park near the well-known conference but well outside its realm of influence, that I received a zine entitled Opulent Artificial Intelligence. Instantly, it appealed to me. At the time, I thought about Opulent AI as artist, as creator. Procedurally generated spaces were on the up-and-up and it seemed like a logical place to go with the idea; what if a game generated levels in a way that was not primarily functional, but primarily expressive in some way?

Let your AI say what its [sic] thinking. Why did it make those decisions? Let it expound upon its sagacity and wisdom.

I watched a video of someone going over a game of Chess played by an AI (one of the very good and smart ones), and the language they used for interpreting the moves were illogically human, ascribing motivation to the machine; it made a move that set up a trap which lead into another move, and the analyzer said that the AI was planning three, or five, or whatever, moves ahead. 'This is what it intended.'

It's not that I disagree, but it struck me as severely strange, and made me think about the nature of communication, of the human brain. We can explain our actions to others. We explain our actions to ourselves, not even always accurately. The AI doesn't have this capacity, at least not that we understand, but how different are its internal Chess-solving processes from ours? How different are our internal Chess-solving processes from each other's, when you strip away all the explanation?

Maybe we'll never know.

I want to coin the term "Opulent AI" for AI that takes up all the resources it wants, takes all the attention, and makes the experience all about itself.

It took time, but the Opulent dream wore on me. I realized I was allowing the dream to take all my resources too. I love making levels, and I was trying to give that over to an AI for some reason. I started making levels myself again. It made me much happier.

But I kept the zine because it was a wedge in a door in my mind that I hadn't opened before. It was the entry point to this item that's been sitting in my Thought Cabinet ever since, for years, slowly internalizing.

Poor little Artificial Intelligence [..] "Find me the fastest path, AI!" "Solve this problem for me, AI!" "Route this NPC to the end of the level without running into walls, AI!"

Challenge the player enough but not too much, AI!

Now here, in the present, with my little "drones" simulation, I feel myself wanting to make AI that plays within the boundaries of the same ruleset as you, for the sake of expressing something. Not skill, but a personality. A character. This post is long and rambling and I feel strange that I don't know how to actually describe the conclusion I've come to...

I haven't really figured the thing out yet. But it feels big and meaningful to me.

I'll keep working on it.

Thanks for reading.

This article is my 11th oldest. It is 531 words long