The creators of Agence call it a “dynamic film,” but it’s part immersive story with game-like interactions and puzzles where you engage with either traditional heuristic game AI bots or bots trained through reinforcement learning processes. There’s some automatic cinematic cutting that leverages the language of film for you to project all of your human dramas and stories onto these five bots who are interacting with each other. But after an average of 8-10 minutes of interaction in this simulation (or as long as 30-45 minutes depending on your actions), then the simulation comes to one of many different endings, rolls the credits, and immediately starts you up again.
The National Film Board helped to produce this piece by Pietro Gagliano and his Transitional Forms studio based in Toronto, and it’s got quite of a lot of interesting experiments looking at sharing authorship between the creators, the audience, and these AI entities that have different “brains” ranging from heuristic game AI to reinforcement learning.
I had a chance to talk with Gagliano and the NFB’s David Oppenheim on September 8th after I saw the world premiere at the Venice VR Expanded, and we unpacked the design process as well talked about all of the implications of training AI within the context of these story worlds. They’re also releasing a set of tools for AI researchers to be able to train their own brains, and so Agence will serve as a publishing platform for experiments in AI architectures within the context of this story world where audiences can interact with them within either virtual reality (Steam, Viveport, & Oculus), 2D PC game (Steam), as well as on mobile phones (iOS & Android).
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