Artificial Intelligence From Research to Reality - Computer Games



  • Part One of the Artificial Intelligence Series

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    Series Overview:

    Artificial Intelligence Series - From Research to Reality

    In 1956, John McCarthy invited a group of leading researchers to Dartmouth to participate in a conference on the newly coined field of Artificial Intelligence. Since then many astonishing things have happened. Deep Blue beat Gary Kasparov at chess. Currently, DARPA has created a very practical Grand Challenge to accelerate research in autonomous vehicles. As it has been almost 50 years since the dream of Artificial Intelligence was articulated, it is appropriate to look back at some key ideas and how they are changing our lives.

    SDForum presents a series of panels Called "Artificial Intelligence: From Research to Reality". Each panel takes a topic and looks at how it has evolved from its research roots to current realities. The topics are Expert Systems, Computer Games, Robotics and Machine Learning.


    Computer Games: Part One of the Artificial Intelligence Series

    The Computer Games panel highlights a large and successful commercial application for AI technology. Ever since the days of Alan Turing, computer games have played an important role in developing AI technology, and AI is an fundamental aspect of most computer games. While developing computer games is now more concerned with realities than research, there is always a cry for better AI in games and this can always provoke new advances, as it has in the past.



    Moderator: David G Stork (bio), Chief Scientist , Ricoh Innovations , Consulting Professor of Electrical Engineering, Stanford University

    Christian Darken, (bio), Associate Professor Department of Computer Science, Monterey Naval Postgraduate School

    David Fotland, (bio), Smart Games

    Damian Isla, (bio), Lead AI Programmer on Halo 2, Bungie

    Will Wright, (bio), Chief Designer and Co-founder, Maxis and Creator of The Sims

    Upcoming Events in the Artificial Intelligence Series

    January 19th - Artificial Intelligence From Research to Reality - Robotics


    Panelist Bios


    Christian Darken

    Christian Darken is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. He collaborates intensively with the MOVES Institute on several projects involving artificial intelligence, computer game technology, and defense/homeland security applications. Previously he was Project Manager of the Decision Support Systems project and Senior Member of Technical Staff at Siemens Corporate Research in Princeton, NJ, where he was variously associated with the Learning Systems, Adaptive Information and Signal Processing, and Software Engineering Departments. He was also a programmer of one of the first commercial first-person perspective massively-multiplayer games. He received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Yale University in 1993, and previously received the M.S. and M.Phil. in Physics from the same institution.


    David Fotland

    David has been writing strategy game AI engines for 30 years, and has produced world champion programs playing Go, Domineering, and Arimaa. His company, Smart Games, sells his award winning Go software, The Many Faces of Go. He has developed engines for playing Chess, Othello, Bridge, Hold’em Poker, and many other games.

    David has a BS Electrical Engineering and MS Computer Engineering from Case Western Reserve University, and worked at Hewlett Packard as an architect and manager for 20 years. He helped develop the PA-RISC instruction set, and led the design of several PC-RISC CPUs and multiprocessor systems. He was one of the lead architects on the Intel Itanium instruction set. David is currently CTO at Ubicom, a fabless semiconductor company that sells very efficient communication processors.


    Damian Isla

    Damian Isla is the AI programmer on Halo2. Before coming to Bungie, he earned a M.Eng. at the MIT Media Lab with Bruce Blumberg's Synthetic Characters Group, where he did research on learning and behavior for artificial creatures. His master's thesis, "The Virtual Hippocampus", dealt with useful spatial representations for learning, navigating and conceptualizing space. He has a B.S. in Computer Science, also from MIT. He enjoys drama of all kinds.


    David G. Stork

    David G. Stork is Chief Scientist at the Ricoh Innovations and Consulting Professor of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University. He received his physics degrees from MIT and the University of Maryland and has been on faculties in Physics, Mathematics, Electrical Engineering, Psychology and Neuroscience Computer Science and Art and Art History variously at Wellesley College, Swarthmore College, Clark University, Stanford University and Boston University. He has published five books, including Pattern Classification (2nd ed.) with R. O. Duda and P. E. Hart, and HAL's Legacy: 2001's computer as dream and reality, which compared the vision for computers in the 1968 epic film "2001: A Space Odyssey" with actual developments in computing and served as the basis for his PBS television documentary. He is the founder and leader of the Open Mind Initiative, a novel web-based framework for collecting data contributed by non-experts for pattern classification and AI software. He is an expert in image analysis of Renaissance master painters, the subject of his article in this month's [December] Scientific American magazine. He is a member of IEEE, INNS, OSA, and the Sigma Xi Honorary Research Society.


    Will Wright

    Will Wright, Maxis’ Chief Designer, co-founded Maxis in 1987. Wright began working on what would become SimCity—The City Simulator in 1985. SimCity was released in 1989, and has since won 24 domestic and international awards. Wright co-designed SimEarth—The Living Planet in 1990. In 1991, Wright co-designed SimAnt—The Electronic Ant Colony. SimCity 2000 and SimCopter are also part of Wright’s recent repertoire. SimCity 3000 Unlimited, the definitive version of 1999’s best-selling game SimCity 3000, continued in the tradition. The long-awaited 4th generation, SimCity 4, was released in January 2003. SimCity 4’s first expansion pack, SimCity 4 Rush Hour, and SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition were shipped in September 2003.

    Wright’s ground-breaking game The Sims, puts players in charge of the lives of a neighborhood of simulated people. Released in February of 2000, this wildly popular title has become a cultural phenomenon. The Sims has inspired six expansion packs. Livin’ Large, House Party, Vacation, Unleashed and Superstar allow players to put their simulated families into new extreme situations and settings. The final expansion pack, Makin’ Magic, was released in October 2003. Taking its bow in December 2002 was Wright’s much anticipated The Sims Online™, which was featured in a cover story in Newsweek Magazine. The next generation of The Sims PC products debuted in September 2004 with The Sims 2, which became the fastest selling PC game ever selling more than a million copies in the first ten days worldwide.

    In 1999, Will was included in Entertainment Weekly’s “It List” of “the 100 most creative people in entertainment” as well as Time Digital’s “Digital 50”, a listing of “the most important people shaping technology today.” In 2002, he was #35 on Entertainment Weekly’s Power List and was also inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences’ Hall of Fame. In 2003, Will was features in Game Informer’s ‘Top 10 Developer List of 2003’. Each year Wright, along with his daughter Cassidy, takes part in the annual Battlebot competition which was broadcast nationally on Comedy Central. His interest in plastic models of ships and airplanes during his childhood in Georgia eventually led to his designing computer models of cities, ecosystems and ant colonies.


    Event Logistics


    6:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. - Networking/Registration

    7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. - Program



    PARC-George E. Pake Auditorium

    3333 Coyote Hill Road

    Palo Alto, CA




    $25 SDForum Members

    $40 Non-Members

    *at the door add $10 to member and non-member prices


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    Purchase a Series Package of admission to all four events and SAVE!

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    Non-Members $80 for all 3 events

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    Pre-registration for this event is closed.
    Please register at the door.