Deepmind and dogs

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, so this post should make up for all the time in between.  I hope.

In case you haven’t heard, Google’s AI, Deepmind, has beat the world champion of Go, Lee Sedol, in a series of matches, winning 4-1. (I feel like that was dangerously close to a run-on sentence.)  This is a HUGE win for AI development, for a couple of reasons.  First of all, beating a human at Go is much more complicated than beating a human at Chess.  (There are 300x more moves in Go than in Chess.)  Second of all, some AI experts were saying that developing a computer capable of beating a human at Go was still at least 10 years off.  I think this is amazing.

Back in high school, when Our Lady Peace was still making music, I read a book by Ray Kurzweil called The Age of Spiritual Machines.  It detailed the basics of machine learning, and the advancement of technology.  Kurzweil discusses the “Law of Accelerating Returns” where he states that humans make advancements in technology at an exponential rates.  Consider computers themselves: In a span of 50 years, they’ve gone from taking up entire rooms, to being embedded in our bodies, our clothing, and nearly everything in our homes.  The fact that AI research is advancing at a quicker-than-expected rate I find to be incredibly exciting!  (I would also recommend taking a look at the timeline Kurzweil wrote in his 1999 book, which at approaching almost 20 years old, is still fairly accurate!)  I can only dream that one day I can work with the brilliant minds at Google’s AI labs to help with this kind of thing.


I’d also like to take a moment to talk about the AI involved with 2 interesting characters in video games.  This is a little more fluff-oriented, but since this is my blog, I think it’s okay to let off some steam every once and awhile.

In a recent article I spotted on social media, Dogmeat, your faithful companion in Skyrim 2 Fallout 4, was awarded “Best Game Dog” at the “World Dog Awards” (which I didn’t know even existed, but am wholly unsurprised).  This immediately struck a chord with me, since I’d played Fallout, and was rather disappointed in Dogmeat as a companion.  He tended to set off mines, get shot and incapacitated by enemies often, and I found myself using other companions who could handle weaponry.  Immediately, I wondered about the exclusion of arguably one of the best buddies in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain : D-Dog.  (Or Charles, as I affectionately call him, after my sister’s dog.)


D-Dog not only follows you around, but knows how to stay out of the way of enemies, doesn’t alert enemies right away when spotted, and is capable of killing, wounding, stunning, or even extracting enemies from the battlefield.  D-Dogs most useful skill is his ability to identify and mark enemies, hostages, and objectives from a distance.  The dog is a friggin swiss-army knife.  When it comes down to the programming for both of these characters, it seems to me that WAY more work went into developing D-Dog.  From both his skill set, and the way he interacts with the player, I can’t wrap my head around why this completely pointless accolade would be given.  Since the award was given to “River”, who was the real-live inspiration for Dogmeat, I can only guess that D-Dog doesn’t have a live-action counterpart to compete in the competition.


PS, MGSV:TPP is awesome.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *