Game Playing and Artificial Intelligence
Since the inception of the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI), game playing has had a key role. Likewise, AI has been an integral part of modern computer games. This collaboration of academic and commercial research and development into AI has yielded vast amounts of crossover technology. Academic research problems have become or influenced commercial games and the money gained from the commercial applications of AI have helped advance academic research as well. Highly publicized man-machine tournaments, such as between Gary Kasparov and IBM's Deep Blue have served to showcase the current state of the art in Artificial Intelligence agents. The technology from these game players is finding its way into many other software fields, such as medical databases.
Not long ago, at the mention of Artificial Intelligence (AI) the first thing most people thought of was the science fiction image of computers capable of independent thought and possessing a human-like personality such as HAL from the movie 2001. It is not unusual now to see commercial computer games advertised and reviewed based on their AI capabilities. The strategic war game EARTH 2140 for example is advertised as containing "excellent strategic and economic AI". Where once AI was solely a matter of fiction and research, it has effectively made its way into the consumer market in the form of computer games. While AI artifacts have not yet reached the level of HAL, computers and their games have advanced substantially from the days of punch cards and Pong.
The early uses of Artificial Intelligence in game playing were not the highly graphical, user friendly, mass marketed computer games seen today. The earliest computer games were research tools in the field of AI. Games make effective sample problems for research because their rules and objectives are clearly defined and easily understood. Ever since this early research, AI and game playing have gone hand-in-hand in both the academic and commercial worlds. In fact, some games originally developed to help researchers learn how to exploit the capabilities and avoid the limitations of computers, such as the Scrabble game Maven, are now being marketed to the masses.
"Child psychologists have long contended that children learn through playing games. Like children, some AI scientists are learning through games."2 Although this is true, Matt Ginsberg, founder of the Computational Intelligence Research Laboratory and programmer of the AI Bridge program Goren-in-a-Box warns that "we need to avoid the trap that all AI can do is play games. . . what we want are lessons that transfer out of game playing to make resources more efficient."2 This union of academic and commercial applications of AI has benefited virtually everyone through the development of 'smarter' games and the spin-off of this technology into other arenas, such as the BioTools DNA and protein analysis program...