As anyone who reads this blog might know, I’m a huge fan of games. Games offer a unique and interesting way for us to explore concepts that could only be dimly referenced in other media. One thing a reader might not know is that I am also a fan of anime. I find the angular features in anime aesthetically pleasing. So how about we get some chocolate, some peanut butter, and mix ’em together.
I refer, of course, to the acclaimed anime Sword Art Online, which follows a “elite” gamer named Kazuto Kirigaya as he explores the world’s very first Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Role Playing Game (VRMMORPG). The series discusses several subjects in depth including the concept of continued existence after death, the rapidly collapsing conceptual space between conventional reality and cyberspace and ethics in game design.
I wish to talk about… none of these. I want to talk about Kazuto’s daughter, an AI named Yui. While the anime takes an illusive stance on defining the difference between Yui and your average Non-Player Character (NPC) it also states clearly that there is one. Yui, unlike your average NPC, has a soul.
This is what I want to talk about. I’ve been laughed out of many a discussion board for making the claim I am about to make but I’ll make it again. As a game designer, as someone who has to be able to hold a discussion with programmers, roboticists, artists, and philosophers (often in the same room) I can tell you, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that Sword Art is coming… and as a society, we need to be ready.
The research paper I want to write will aim to draw a clearer line between True AI (like Yui) and computers that only look smart (like the voice recognition software on your phone). I expect to have to discuss the Paradox of the Heap, modern machine languages, theoretical machine languages and our good old friend Descartes. I hope you enjoy.