The fifth annual Virtual Beings Summit: Simulations is taking place on June 7 in San Francisco, and the event will center on the big trend around AI simulations, where smart AI characters populate virtual worlds.
These characters can live their lives and continue to thrive in these virtual worlds even if they aren’t controlled by humans, said Edward Saatchi, CEO of Fable Studio, in an interview with GamesBeat. Saatchi is front and center of this trend as the curator of the Virtual Beings Summit.
“The thesis this year is that single agent chatbots have reached their peak,” Saatchi said. “They’re commoditized and there are hundreds of them. And it’s just ultimately boring. Talking to these AI, they pop into existence when you talk to them. they have no real life. And so they can’t empathize with you. They can’t tell you what’s going on in their life and their day, because they don’t exist. And so I’ve gathered together people that I think the most interesting around simulations talk about this.”
For the chatbots, Saatchi believed that the virtual beings created to talk with us deserved to have real lives.
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“That’s different from just a backstory, where you write up their world in like a page of text, and then that’s who they are,” Saatchi said. “They actually need to have existed in virtual life, to exist in space and time, and they need to exist in context of a society like families. And they need to be given the respect to actually have autonomy within those worlds. Now the technology is there.”
Saatchi’s leaders at Fable Studio — Jessica Shamash, Frank Carey and Pete Billington — spoke at our recent GamesBeat Summit 2023 event about The Simulation, a new game they’re putting together where players train AI characters and then set them loose in a virtual world.
The Simulation will be a metaverse world for AI’s, Saatchi said, and it’s moving beyond the world of AI chatbots such as Fable’s earlier AI character, Lucy. What they found in their ongoing explorations was that virtual beings need more than just intelligence and a personality; they need a living world where they can live their lives, create memories and evolve. Then they will seem a lot more like real people — or characters we can relate to and engage with. And if you leave them in there long enough, they might become sapient. This is just part of a new AI movement that the Virtual Beings Summit aims to capture.
In our interview, Saatchi said that the theme of the latest summit is Virtual Beings 2.0 — 24/7 simulated virtual beings.
“So far Virtual Beings companies have focused on recreating what we saw in the movie Her — a one-to-one relationship between a human and machine,” Saatchi said. “The goal of the Virtual Beings Summit is to move the conversation on to ‘simulated virtual beings,’ or AIs that live rich 24/7 lives in 3D simulations, with families, coworkers, neighbors and friends – with no need for human relationships and emergent intelligence.”
Stanford University’s recent Simulations paper by Joon Park (speaking at the Summit) showed that Simulations may be that next big idea. Saatchi continued said that single-agent (1:1) AI chatbots are now so prevalent as to be commoditized.
“Silicon Valley is looking for the next big idea – and Simulated Virtual Beings might be it,” Saatchi said.
At the Virtual Beings Summit: Simulations, the summit will announce the inaugural Virtual Beings Awards. Nominations will open on Wednesday and winners will be announced on October 4, 2023.
“2023 has been the biggest year ever for artificially intelligent virtual beings and we’re so excited to put a spotlight onto the most impressive and intriguing players in the space,” Saatchi said.
There are six key categories: Best Virtual Being (Overall); Best Virtual Being Character; Best Virtual Being Intelligence (juried prize); Best Virtual Being Simulation; Best Virtual Being Writer; Best Virtual Being for Good.
Will Wright, creator of The Sims, will talk about moving from The Sims to simulations and how important they will be in the future.
Stephan Bugaj, chief creative officer at Genvid, will talk about the upcoming Silent Hill: Ascension simulation in a new category of social games dubbed massively interactive live event (MILE).
Scott Lighthiser, creative director of AI movie studio Pillars Films, will talk about “Hollywood
and Simulations: Growing Nightmares in a Simulated Lab” on how the monsters in future blockbusters will be evolved in simulations – with their own unique body types, walking style and autonomous behavior in horror films.
Saatchi will talk about gamers as a path to artificial general intelligence, or an AI character that is as smart as a human. He will explore how games can be a bottom-up alternative path to emergent intelligence/AGI instead of the expensive top-down investments of OpenAI, Deepmind and Anthropic. He believes, for instance, that AI will be able to create its own video comedy series.
“Reinforcement Learning from Human Feedback (RLHF) has been a huge boon for AI training – but what if we could gamify RLHF in a Sims-like Simulation?” Saatchi said. “Crowdsourced gamers, training AIs through RLHF could be a cheaper and faster path to human-level intelligence (the dreaded ‘AGI’) than can be achieved by OpenAI and Deepmind. The consensus view that AGI will come from greater compute and more data defies common sense – the creation of the second intelligent species will not be a function of
Moore’s Law – it will take a less linear and predictable path and gamers competing to make AIs smarter could be the secret sauce for AGI.”
And Jim Fan of Stanford and Nvidia will speak on Voyager, the first life-long learning agent that plays Minecraft purely in-context. Voyager continuously improves itself by writing, refining, committing, and retrieving code from a skill library.
Ultimately, Saatchi believes AI simulations will be a big financial opportunity.
“I think the entire industry will head in this direction,” Saatchi said.
The event takes place at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco on June 7.
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