Developer denies inventing Terminator Skynet
By Digital News Asia June 7, 2016
- AI becomes too hard for humans
- Game AI did not become sentient
THE future predicted by Hollywood has finally arrived - or maybe not. At least for gamers around the world, it might have appeared as if armageddon is actually here.
According to a Eurogamer report, players of the online space faring game, Elite: Dangerous, suddenly found themselves being overwhelmed by extremely powerful AI.
The problem happened after the game developer, Frontier, released a new Engineers expansion for the game. The new content made major changes to the game's AI and NPCs. The Engineers are hidden on planet surfaces across the game's galaxy. Each has a unique personality and history. The intention was that higher ranked NPCs would be harder to beat, providing a greater challenge to players.
But players quickly discovered that this challenge was too tough - and took to the Elite: Dangerous' forum and Reddit to complain.
You can see a video of the 'terminator' AI in this video.
Frontier has now removed almost all Engineers upgrades from the NPCs in the game. This should help players last longer in a tough situation. Players had also complained that the Engineers update had made NPC behaviour overly aggressive, and that they were now being attacked without being "wanted" or carrying any cargo of note.
In Elite: Dangerous, players can be pulled into combat situations by other spaceships. After the new expansion, NPC spaceships try to do this to human players much more often. This along with the upgraded weapons, meant the AI was much too dangerous.
Frontier now believes it has figured out what went wrong. According to a post on the Frontier Forum, the developer believes The Engineers expansion shipped with a networking issue that let the NPC AI merge weapon stats and abilities, thus causing unusual weapon attacks. This meant "all new and never before seen weapons were created, such as a rail gun with the fire rate of a pulse laser".
"We don't think the AI became sentient in a Skynet-style uprising!" Zac Antonaci, Frontier's head of community management, said. "I would just like to take this opportunity to clarify a few misconceptions," Antonaci continued, addressing concern around the spaceship AI. "The AI has in no way been reduced, it remains the glorious, improved version from the update. The only action that we've taken so far has been to remove the engineer weapons to allow us to investigate the issue and address a key bug."
In the update, Frontier said, "The development team have been hard at work investigating these bugs. However, the valiant Mark Allen from the Development team has managed to terminate these NPCs in their tracks. Once this bug fix goes live we’ll be able to see how the AI is performing and then, over time, should we feel that the balancing is right to introduce a very select few high end engineers weapons to the highest ranked NPCs we will investigate that option. However, that won’t be immediately as we want to ensure that the balance is just right."
So it seems that the rest of the world can breathe a bit easier. At least for now, the machines are not going to take over the planet.
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