The next big step for artificial intelligence in games will be making a character walk up to a table and pick up a pencil.

That's according to Bungie AI expert Damian Isla, who told Eurogamer that in his line of work, problems we assume to be easy usually turn out to be "impossibly difficult".

"In a lot of ways, the next step for AI is... Animation," Isla said. "Which is to say that AI has developed to a point where a lot of the big problems that we're solving are not really AI problems at all, they're animation problems.

"The example that I give to a lot of people is that we have yet to see an AI, or any kind of character in a videogame, that can walk up to a table and pick a pencil off the table. We literally don't know how to do that, because it's such an incredibly complicated process.

"You know, it's one of the classic problems of AI. The things that people think are hard to do, are actually easy. The things that people think are easy, are the hard problems. Everyone thinks, intelligence... Well, what about chess? Chess is really intelligent. From an AI perspective, though, it was a solved problem 30 years ago, and now we're beating the grand masters," said Isla.

The upshot, of course, won't be more games where you can pick up pencils in a realistic way, but games where characters react dynamically and fluidly to events around them - flexing joints and limbs in a realistic way to carry out a wide range of actions. An that.

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Rob Fahey

Rob Fahey

Contributing Editor

Rob Fahey is a former editor of GamesIndustry.biz who spent several years living in Japan and probably still has a mint condition Dreamcast Samba de Amigo set.

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