In 2019 Sony announced the establishment of its subsidiary, Sony AI, with the mission to advance fundamental research in artificial intelligence. What exactly Sony planned to do with the AI technology was unclear at the time, but the company’s recent strategy meeting offered some insight into the new AI technology and its supposed applications. Apparently, PlayStation is creating an AI to play games with you.
According to an article published by IGN, PlayStation is collaborating with Sony AI to create richer and more enjoyable gameplay experiences. This collaboration ultimately led to the creation of Game AI Agents that can act as player’s in-game opponents or collaboration partners in various gaming scenarios. These AI Agents are likely related to Sony’s recent patent, titled “Automated Artificial Intelligence (AI) Control Mode For Playing Specific Tasks During Gaming Applications,” whose title alone suggests that the new tech is developed explicitly for gaming purposes.
Patent documents describe the system as Artificial Intelligence capable of simulating human gameplay, based on the play style it learned from its user – so you can’t really blame the AI for a lousy gaming session. In some instances, the system will likely use reinforcement learning, which relies on trial and error to teach the AI Agents how to carry out specific tasks. This type of AI learning was used in video gaming environments before, like StarCraft II AI, and it could be further enhanced if Sony’s PlayStation decides to allow the system to share its AI knowledge among its users. Just as long as there’s a kill switch, in case it ever becomes sentient.
Gaming AI’s like Sony is planning for PlayStation aren’t really a novelty, and we’ve seen them in a number of games dating back as far as 1951. Though primitive, these examples of Artificial Intelligence could defeat professional, highly skilled players of the time. The technology and its gaming application evolved over the years, and DeepMind’s AI, which is present in the aforementioned StarCraft II game, can beat pro-level players at games that are incredibly more complex than those in 1951. So far, the goal was to create artificial intelligence that thinks as a human does. Sony just shifted the technology’s focus onto creating a more interesting, dynamic, and realistic gaming experience.
Other technological giants with gaming interests, such as Microsoft, are also exploring Artificial Intelligence, though Microsoft’s efforts at the tech seem oriented towards other applications as well, not just gaming. Just a couple of months ago, the company signed a hefty military contract regarding their AR headsets, which are likely to feature some form of Artificial Intelligence. PlayStation, however, is purely interested in transferring their research from the lab and into their gaming titles, which can result in smarter AI teammates and more competent opponents.
With everything said, the collaboration between Sony AI and PlayStation isn’t the final step towards creating Sony’s unique Artificial Intelligence, but the first. Sony’s products are broadly present in our daily lives, from entertainment, imaging, sensing, gastronomy, etc., all of which could benefit from an enhanced presence of Artificial Intelligence that learns from humans and builds upon and enhances our creativity.