“The art challenges the technology, and the technology inspires the art.” – John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer, Pixar
In 2014, Google acquired a British artificial intelligence company, DeepMind Technologies, with the goal of creating a general-purpose artificial intelligence (AI). The algorithm, Alpha Go, beat a human at the ancient Chinese board game “Go.” It’s not the first time a machine has outwitted a human at a game, but this particular game proves the AI’s ability to approximate human intuition and critical thinking. The Google AI uses a technique called “deep reinforcement learning,” which makes it different from other forms of AI like IBM’s Deep Blue or Watson, Siri, and Google Now.
Google’s DeepMind AI learns from experience, instead of having a programmed purpose. The algorithm can figure out any system or game without instructions by intuition and learning just like a human. Its goal is to mimic the way humans learn by trying, failing, and then learning from its mistakes. This system could create opportunities that would enhance our way of life. Imagine taking an idea for an advertising campaign, writing a paper or creating a piece of digital art, and then having the AI do the heavy lifting. It would allow you to focus on the big idea, while the AI handles the mundane work.
The goal is to have Google’s DeepMind AI help with jobs that are information-based while leaving opportunity for jobs with more creative roles. As an animator, I’m seeing potential for character rigging and tedious key framing work.
Walk cycle created for a proof of concept
One disadvantage for animators—and other creative people—is that our work can take a lot of time to create and fine tune. Having an AI sidekick could exponentially speed up the production timeline and change the way we think about our work. Instead of spending valuable time on minor details and revisions, that time could be spent directing and producing new work. You could create several projects in the same amount of time it took to create just one.
Recently, Google’s DeepMind AI taught itself to walk. It’s pretty wonky right now, but this presents amazing opportunities for the future of character development.
Also, Google’s DeepMind AI has a lot of potential for VR platforms (virtual reality gaming). Imagine playing against an opponent, or an army of them, that relies on intuition and learns from its experiences. It would fundamentally change character behavior in single-player games. Instead of battling a computer with a programmed list of functions, you’re essentially battling against another human.
Yes? No? Maybe so? Before you start worrying about a Terminator or Matrix futuristic dystopia, remember that the goal is to help humans and enhance our way of life. The fear of the unknown drives hysteria and anxiety, so it’s better to embrace the unknown and look for the potential. We’re living during an exciting time, and the future is full of opportunities.