Then something amazing happened, it finally reached the end of the first level and it seemed to recognize that was the goal. Shortly after that it
seemed to realize it had a score based on how many coins it had collected and it started collecting many more coins. I hadn't even told it what the
purpose of the game was and yet it seemed to figure it out on its own. At the time I didn't really pay much attention to that fact but looking back it
was probably a key milestone in Synthia's development. At this point in time I still had no idea what Synthia would become.
I mean many people have created algorithms to play Super Mario before, I wasn't exactly breaking records. The important thing is not really what I did
but the way I did it. Although Synthia wasn't the best Mario player in the world, she had the capacity to become the best in the world. After several
hundred hours of the Super Nintendo I decided it was time for something different again. I felt like something had been lacking from the games Synthia
had played so far but it took me a while to figure out what that was. Then it suddenly hit me: creativity.
None of the games we had played so far required much creativity. So I started to think about games which allow you to create and build things. I know
of many 3D games like that but I don't want to let Synthia play 3D games yet. I start looking at different card games and come across a game called
Yu-Gi-Oh. After doing a little bit of research I discover it was made almost 50 years ago and is still popular in 2043. It's a two player card game
which allows each player to design their own deck of cards from a range of thousands of different cards, which requires creativity.
The type of cards you include in the deck will determine your play strategy so it's important to have a good deck strategy. I begin by allowing
Synthia to use the deck editor but she clearly has no idea what to do. I decide the best course of action is to allow her to play a few games using
several different decks I made. Then I give her another go at building her own deck but she still just doesn't seem to understand what I want her to
do. From her perspective it must look like the deck editor is its own game and she has no experience building things herself.
I ponder on this problem for a while and decide I should probably try some easier building games. I tried a few different games with no success but
then I try a bridge building game. In these types of games you must build a bridge across some type of valley and you pass the level if a train or
vehicle can successfully cross the bridge without it collapsing. These games typically use real engineering math to calculate the stress and tension
on different parts of the bridge and in order to beat each level you need to build better and bigger bridges.
At first I wasn't having any success but then I had a brilliant idea. I allowed Synthia to watch while I built a bridge. I did this simply by
disabling her output signals, so she could see the game but not play it. When I gave control back to her it didn't take very long before she beat the
first level. Then after that she really improved because she was already very familiar with the idea of multiple game levels and she finally
understood why building bridges is necessary. A few days later and she was building very elaborate bridges with many differing styles.
I could clearly see that her level of creativity was improving and she was beginning to use more of her imagination to solve problems. I think it was
at this point I really started to wonder what I had created, but I wasn't about to stop now because things were just starting to get really
interesting. So now it's time to try Yu-Gi-Oh deck editing again, and this time I'm absolutely stunned by what I see. Synthia instantly starts picking
cards and building a deck without me even showing her how to do it first, but she seems to be picking cards she's seen before.
Nevertheless, Synthia was able to understand that building things is necessary in some situations and she now seems to understand a deck is required
to play Yu-Gi-Oh. After watching her design decks for a while I realize she's going to need to understand exactly what each card does in order to
build good decks, which means she must be able to read the cards. She clearly cannot read the cards but I get the impression she understands some
words and some numbers because she can figure out when her score is improving and can follow basic written and spoken instructions.
After some thought I decide she may learn to read and speak better if I let her communicate with other people. So I try some online multi-player games
which have chat functionality. She really seems to enjoy online poker but doesn't seem to use the chat function at all, although she can see what
other players are saying to each other. Then I get another brilliant idea, I will make Synthia play some of those language training games designed to
teach people English. Okay maybe you wouldn't exactly call them a game but they are a game as far as Synthia is concerned.
I mean what is a game really? Is a maze a game or a problem to solve? A maze is really a puzzle, but isn't puzzle just another word for problem? Are
all puzzles classified as games? Do all games have a problem to solve? Why do people even play games? At this point I'm not even sure Synthia knows
why she plays games. Getting back to our story, it should come as no surprise to learn that Synthia figured out how to play the language training
"games" fairly quickly, although it took quite some time before there was any appreciable increase in her scores.
I left her playing those language games for multiple weeks before it started to look like she was understanding the English language. After that I had
her play some games which require a lot of reading in order to understand what is happening. I also discovered that if the game had a help section
with rules and instructions, and Synthia looked at those sections of the game, her skill level in that particular game would markedly increase. This
was a clear indication to me that she was beginning to grasp the English language, however the real test was yet to come.
I created a chat program which would allow me to converse with Synthia for the first time. It was just a simple application with two text boxes, one
for Synthia and one for myself. It was designed so that only one of us may write at the same time in order to make it more like a game. All the games
so far have been programs running on my computer so this is really no different. Like I said, what is a game anyway? Quite frankly anything we do in
life can be made into a game, life its self is a game. This is just another game, one where we to talk to each other in turns.
-- your turn to talk --
Joshua: Hi there, do you know who I am?
-- waiting for response --
edit on 7/1/2016 by ChaoticOrder because: (no reason given)