Computer Generated Bank Robbery

7862855188_b93525e4a4_zHow would a computer algorithm plan a bank robbery?

Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology have created “Scheherazade-IF,” an artificial intelligence system that has a single purpose: to generate an interactive story.

Through algorithms and crowd-sourced information, the program can write a simple Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style story. So far, the program has generated stories about a movie date and a bank robbery, and the researchers found that human readers could follow these narratives created by artificial intelligence.

Both the bank robbery and the movie date stories were created by gathering “a highly specialized corpus of example narratives” from crowd-sourced workers hired via Amazon Turk–you can read more about the research methods at this PDF link.

The researchers explained:

“crowd workers are asked to provide linear archetypical examples of what could happen during the interactive narrative in natural language for the given topic.”

The computerized writer then plots these details along a simple graph, generating a series of narrative possibilities that the reader could follow.

bank robbery

These algorithms could one day make video game stories more complex and unique, feeding players computer-generated narratives about love, bank robbery and other human activities.

The storytelling bot has a built-in timer, making the bank robbery game a bit more suspenseful: “After a certain point, if the player is too slow to take actions, the police will arrive and the game will end with the player being caught.”

The philosopher Jean Baudrillard pondered bank robbery in a thought experiment in his classic text, Simulacra and Simulations. He told readers to imagine staging a fake bank robbery a way of testing the boundaries between real and simulated bank robberies. He ultimately concluded that the real world would swoop in and ruin the simulation.

Baudrillard wrote:

“You won’t be able to do it: the network of artificial signs will become inextricably mixed up with real elements (a policeman will really fire on sight; a client of the bank will faint and die of a heart attack; one will actually pay you the phony ransom), in short, you will immediately find yourself once again, without wishing it, in the real, one of whose functions is precisely to devour any attempt at simulation, to reduce everything to the real…”

What do you think? How would a computer generated bank robbery unfold in real life?

You can watch the storytelling program in action in the video embedded below. Bank robbery photo via Henry Burrows

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