Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Tale of Two Bots, Part 1

Halo Closeup
Location: Daden Prime

With Richmond considering an interactive literary simulation for the 2010-2011 academic year, I went bot-shopping. Beeble Baxter's and my idea involves programming SL bots to act as non-player characters (NPCs) inside our simulation. This post may run a bit long, because it's as much a report to RL peers and potential funders as it is a blog-post on a fascinating SL technology.

Daden's Robotars:

A UR team of four began our investigations of A.I. technology at Daden Prime, where Corro Moseley introduced us to Halo, a bot programmed by his company, Daden Limited. Halo can do many different things, including:
  • Respond to verbal cues in chat

Bot Snake

  • Recognize and respond to objects (such as the snake shown) by their object-names. Corro told us that shape-recognition is under development
  • Move about in a set of prescribed bounds. One problem here is that Halo and her peers are confused if an area gets modified. Like the robotic cop who malfunctions in THX-1139, Halo would walk repeatedly into a wall. For that reason, we'd want to have the shape of our simulation nearly done before we embedded our bots
  • Rez objects, change appearance or clothing, and do other "avatar-like" things in response to verbal cues
  • Interact with scripted objects such as doors and other items in our simulation
  • Respond to other bots, without the "infinite loop" phenomenon that anyone programming a chatterbot in a MOO understands. In SL, such chat-spam can make an entire region crash.
  • Recognize key words in a query and search the Web for answers. Wikipedia and are frequent locales for this action by a bot
  • Engage in simple recognition of objects or people, as in this part of our test:
Corro Moseley: what objects can you see
Halo Rossini: I can see Garden Bench about 45m away to the west
Halo's Swing about 10m away to the east
Twitter Fountain 02c 10m away to the north east
Haro House 1 about 40m away to the east
*Simply Sierra's Koi* - Orange Ogon* (Random CW speed) 10m away to the north east
Halo's Picture Frame about 45m away to the east

Corro Moseley: whereabouts is avatar beeble baxter
Halo Rossini: beeble baxter is at <202,91,25>

Me, Halo, Corro
Daden can host the bot's code on their servers or supply it to a user. They charge for annual updates, on-site visits, and by the bot. We'd code Halo (and her brother) for our simulation. Bottom Line: Daden's Robotars are not cheap but they are powerful. Even so, we were nutty enough with out questions to get this response:

Halo Rossini: Sorry, my brain doesn't appear to be working properly at the moment. Please try again.

Halo appears

That happens to me every day, at least once. Halo also took a while to rez (shown above) but once she did, she was ready to work with us.

Really want to have fun perplexing a Robotar? Check out what that wag, Hamlet Au, did on his visit to Daden Prime.

We are awaiting a quote from Daden.

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