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The emergence of virtual world technologies has provided new applications of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies within these immersive environments. Many virtual worlds have options for persistent avatars that provide information, training, role playing, and social interactions.
The immersion of virtual worlds provides a unique platform for AI beyond the traditional paradigm of past User Interfaces (UIs). What Alan Turing established as the benchmark for telling the difference between human and computerized intelligence was done void of visual influences. With today's AI bots, virtual intelligence has evolved past the constraints of past testing into a new level of the machine's ability to demonstrate intelligence. The immersive features of these environments provide non verbal elements that affect the realism provided by Virtually Intelligent agents.
Virtual Intelligence is the intersection of these 2 technologies:
- Virtual Environments: Immersive 3D spaces provide for collaboration, simulations, and role playing interactions for training. Many of these virtual environments are currently being used for government and academic projects, including Second Life, VastPark, Olive, OpenSim, Oracle's Open Wonderland, Duke University's Open Cobalt, and many others. Some of the commercial virtual worlds are also taking this technology into new directions, including the high definition virtual world Blue Mars.
- Artificial Intelligence: The field of AI has been since the 1950s – but often affected by misconceptions depicted in movies that portray AI becoming "Self Aware" and taking over the world without any conclusive evidence of such a thing being possible.
The virtual environments provide non-verbals and visual cues that can affect not only the believability of the AI, but also the usefulness of it. Because like many things in technology, it's not just about "does it work" but also about "how do we feel about it working." Virtual Intelligence draws a new distinction as to how this application of AI is different due to the environment in which it operates.
Examples of the use of Virtual Intelligence:
- Cutlass Bomb Disposal Robot: Northrop Grumman developed a virtual training opportunity because of the prohibitive real world cost and dangers associated with bomb disposal. By replicating a complicated system without having to learn advanced code, the virtual robot has no risk of damage, trainee safety hazards, or accessibility constraints.
- MyCyber Twin and Pandorabots: NASA is among the companies that have used the MyCyber Twin AI technologies. They used it for the Phoenix rover in the virtual world Second Life. Their MyCyber Twin used a programmed profile to relay information about the Phoenix rover to inform people on what it was doing and its purpose. NASA has also made use of Pandorabots.
- Second China: The University of Florida developed the "Second China" project as an immersive training experience for learning how to interact with culture and language in a foreign country. Students are immersed in an environment that provides roleplaying challenges coupled with language and cultural sensitivities magnified during country-level diplomatic missions or during times of potential conflict or regional destabilization. The virtual training provides participants with opportunities to access information, take part in guided learning scenarios, communicate, collaborate, and role-play. While China was the country for the prototype, this model can be modified for use with any culture to help better understand social and cultural interactions and see how other people think and what their actions imply.
- Duke School of Nursing Training Simulation: Extreme Reality developed virtual training to test critical thinking with a nurse performing trained procedures to identify critical data to make decisions and performing the correct steps for intervention. Bots are programmed to response to the nurses actions as the patient with their conditions improving if the nurse performs the correct actions.