What would an adventure game designed by the worlds most dangerous A.I. look like? A neuroscience grad student is here to help you find out. Earlier this year, OpenAI, an A.I. startup once sponsored by Elon Musk, created a text-generating bot deemed too dangerous to ever release to the public. Called GPT-2, the algorithm was designed to generate text so humanlike that it could convincingly pass itself off as being written by a person. Feed it the start of a newspaper article, for instance, and it would dream up the rest, complete with imagined quotes.
When AI development firm OpenAI released its GPT-2 algorithm, it warned that the tech was capable of flooding the internet with fake news and propaganda. What it didn't predict, however, is that the algorithm can also make a pretty effective dungeon master. AI Dungeon 2 (playable here) uses the full-sized GPT-2 algorithm to bring players through a text adventure-style game that it writes in real-time based on the player's prompts and commands. The game isn't perfect -- in my playing, it for some reason decided to name every single character "Dan" -- but it's fascinating all the same to let a powerful AI system take the wheel and steer the game's journey. AI Dungeon 2 is a far cry from the first version of the game, which creator and Northwestern University grad student Nathan Whitmore built around a substantially weaker version of GPT-2.
When I read Ender's Game, one of the parts that most stuck with me was the delightfully creepy Mind Game–a game designed to probe the player's subconcious. In the book, we learn that the Mind Game isn't actually programmed–it's powered by an AI that makes up the gameplay as it goes, reacting to the player's decisions and getting progressively more surreal. Ender's Game was written in 1985, and since then AI has actually gotten pretty good at creative tasks since then. The real-time graphics of something like the Mind Game are probably still out of reach, but what about something simpler like a text adventure? I decided to try writing a game like this by training GPT-2, a state-of-the-art predictive text model, on some transcripts of classic text advetnures.
On Friday night, at Albert Park, in San Rafael, California, the Sonoma Stompers ran on to the pitching mound, hugged one another, laughed, and sprayed champagne. Jose Flores, their six-foot-four closer, had just sailed a fastball by the San Rafael Pacifics slugger Brent Gillespie, leaving the bases loaded and preserving the team's 5–4 victory. With it, the Stompers claimed the Pacific Association title. Five hundred and ninety-two fans were on hand to watch. Few baseball fans have heard of the tiny Pacific Association, an independent league founded in 2013.
In late November, a college senior at Brigham Young University named Nick Walton published a short fable called "My Musical Troupe of Orcs Uses Music to Advance Orc Rights." In the story, written in the second person, you are a goblin. "I am a goblin!" you say proudly. "And I'm glad to be one." "Well then, congratulations," says the orc captain.