We can now engineer entirely artificial personalities, and we don't mean your-kid-for-cash strategies like Hannah Montana. Scientists have now evolved artificial personalities based on simulated genetic algorithms. Meaning they're only one good synthetic-skin invention from getting rid of our species altogether. A research collaboration between Samsung and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has created a virtual puppy, Rity, a computerized creature whose every action is guided by a simulated personality system. It's an excellent choice by the developers, making the first models as harmless-looking as possible - affording them extra time to develop successors and dig the EMP-shielded bunkers.
Rity's personality is based on silicon-simulated genes. Its personality program is run from a an artificial genome consisting of 1,764 genes, divided into 14 chromosomes. These chromosomes control various components of three separate internal state units, which react to external information and send votes to a probabilistic behavior module equipped with instant instinct reactions. This puppy's brain is more complicated than most country's governments, and this is only the first generation.
It's important to understand what "genes" mean in software development: this electronic puppy isn't able to breed (to the dismay of the scarier parts of the internet population), so we aren't looking at a horde of evolved software agents. Evolutionary algorithms evolve a program by mutating various genes in thousands of generations - the fittest results are selected and mutated again, and again and again. This can result in surprisingly effective algorithms - the evolved solutions in this case actually performed better than those hand-designed by the programmers. Or in other, more movie-trailer-friendly terms, this thing is better at the game than the people who designed said game. And the game is "create artificial beings." And these are the same people who, presumably, designed the "don't escape into the world and kill etc etc" subroutines.
So the system can't breed an invincibly army, but as a program it can easily be copied, which is the point - spend a ton of computer time evolving up a good solution then use it for everything. At this point the solution is only for "See if a simulated pet likes being stroked", which even a pink DS can do, but the future applications are far more significant.
Everything from assistants for the elderly (which have already been built), to human-interface agents online, to more realistic AI in video games. Because that's the best possible idea: evolve electronic intelligences, then shoot at them all the time to see what happens.
Posted by Luke McKinney.
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