The Front

In response to “A Brief History of Artificial Life” from The Escapist Forum: That was a mighty interesting read, although I wouldn’t want my masterpiece to be known for its ability to poop.

Maybe there’s a kind of intellectual Uncanny Valley here; just as something that looks almost but not quite like a real human being will be much more unsettling than something that is a bit more stylized, something that behaves almost but not like a real intelligence feels unsettling to us, while a series of canned responses feels more natural.

Also, why aren’t any of those geniuses mentioned in Steampunk literature? They’re all about Charles Babbage.

The Random One

Pleasantly written article, but I was still very disappointed. What about Creatures? What about Greythumb, Darwin@home, the evogrid, Conway’s Game of Life, the Noble Ape simulation? I’m probably not doing the body of research any justice, but there’s more depth to this topic than Rossignol’s article presents.

“What neither automata nor videogame characters have ever been able to do, however, is fool us into thinking that they really are alive.” Not necessarily, many people considered the artificial organisms in “Creatures” to be so real that they debated online the ethics of intentionally torturing the little guys.



In response to “Electric Soul” from The Escapist Forum: Fascinating and… honestly moving article. I have to admit, though, that theme never really crossed my mind while I was playing it. Not consciously, anyway. Right now, I can say “I agree” because there might have been some sort of FEELING there – a sort of underlying theme.

I’m not sure how the author jumps from 1. Asimov’s 3 laws/programming == can do no evil (ish) to 2. cannot truly mean to do good. I mean, if you analogize the three laws into… say really effective policemen (ala minority report) who gently stop you before you do anything ‘evil’ does it really follow that you do not have the capability to sincerely be good?

To me, at least, the assertion requires a programmer’s perspective. A robotic intelligence still needs definition – it’s a blank slate. If it’s not told what anything is, nothing exists. From basic directions to complex morality, a robot at the beginning knows absolutely nil. If it’s not told what is moral and what is not, it can’t make a decision.

With that assumption, Robo’s actions and dialogue can perhaps be seen as transcending that utter lack of definition.



From basic directions to complex morality, a robot at the beginning knows absolutely nil. If it’s not told what is moral and what is not, it can’t make a decision.

Sooo… we’re not assuming said robot has sentience stemming from artificial intelligence? If the author was talking from a programmer’s perspective of a procedural program then his reasoning is more that the robot isn’t sentient and is thus devoid of the capacity for morality, but i don’t think that’s what he’s getting at. His examples of Robo, Hal, etc… are robots who are beings who are self-aware: they have some sort of consciousness/sentience. We aren’t talking about objects whose every action is programmed in (complete with unintentional bugs).

The thing with Asimov’s positronic brain robots was that they had artificial intelligence in the sense that not everything was straight up programmed into the robots. These robots had the 3 laws as constraints on what they could do, if I were looking at this from your “programmer’s” perspective then they wouldn’t need the three laws because they’d be limited to only actions programmed into them.

If the author was positing that without some existence of free-will there can be no true goodness then I agree. However it came out for me (and this is why I objected) as even if you had a sentient being with a consciousness, if you had a limitation on your capacity for evil hardwired into your context you were unable to be good/truly do good.



In response to “Notorious R.O.B.” from The Escapist Forum: Part of me wishes they’d do a “retro” release of R.O.B. like a lot of G.I.Joe, Star Wars and Transformers toys are getting, but most collectors grabbing one likely wouldn’t even have known about it when they were kids (I myself vaguely knew of the thing, as a friend owned one but never used it. I more remember putting on the power glove, trying to get it to work, and then shrugging assuming it was just broken).

As for peripherals, I think more than anything else R.O.B. is a sign that Nintendo has always been about doing video games differently. The Nintendo DS and Wii come as no shock as their early days were filled with attempts to get players doing more than using a control pad. It’s just that technology has finally reached a point where their ambitions can be made closer to reality.

What would be really cool is if they developed a new variation of R.O.B. to be an A.I. second player that could help you out in co-op games, but the amount of R&D required for that in a game is likely to be astronomical. A developer would have to include their own code for R.O.B. to make use of, and that could easily just be too costly to invest in. Still, one day it may become a possibility.



In response to “Pilgrimage to Mecha” from The Escapist Forum:

Reading through this, I can only shake my head at the gap between what’s culturally fascinating in Japan and America. American culture just seems so. . .meaningless in comparison.

Yes, it’s a totally different paradigm. In North America we often criticise Japanese and Japanophiles as being overly fanatic, but I think that’s only one side of the coin. From my experiences the Japanese are much more willing to commit 100% to an idea, vision, or cause, and that also means that they frequently like to search for a deeper meaning in things. (incidentally, that is also what i believe makes them such fanboys and fangirls). With america, dedication is a means to an end for yourself to enjoy a good life. That’s not to say Japanese are better; they tend much more easily towards fanaticism and absolutism, such as in WWII. But yes, it’s really a fascinating phenomenon to observe.

While I do think the concept of moral and political shades of grey, as well as anti-war and seeing the conflict from many perspectives was a respectable part of Gundam, I think that the series takes it too far nowadays. It’s become so formulaic with many moral paragon-type characters which I find incredibly irksome. The whole series is imbued with a sense of ‘half a dozen virtuous men in superpowered robot suits CAN and WILL define the shape of this morally chaotic landscape. And kick everyone else’s ass because they are morally/mentally flawed and that makes them weak’.

Also, that video of Gackt is slightly disturbing. Those japanese fangirls scream like they’re in orgasm and the ‘seig Zeon!’ chant has FAR too many nazi overtones…


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