Ubisoft and AI Research with ‘La Forge’

The term “artificial intelligence” is often associated with thoughts of a machine locking you out of a spaceship, a robot on a rampage to clense the earth of humans, a robot on a rampage to save the humans, and that’s as many movies as I can reference without going into the actual AI movie which nobody wants to ever think of again.

Sorry, let’s get to the point. Being, Ubisoft, one of the largest game publishers out there as well as one of the biggest jokes in the video game culture, has just opened up a new research department completely dedicated to further the advancement of technology through AI development.

It’s called La Forge

AI in video games has never really been anything impressive, usually showing up in the form of enemies hunting down the player, NPCs going about their daily tasks until you screw up their pathing, and cars racing down the speedway or just driving down the street. Very useful for Ubisoft’s purposes, but not very useful in the bigger picture. However, using data gathered from simulations based off of the code from Ubi’s previous titles including AI can help researchers in their journey to develop technology for the future.

La Forge will take the very best from Ubisoft as well as students from universities and put them together in a confined space. That hivemind of geniuses will then take a few months to work tirelessly on a prototype that will combine the aspects of a real world experience and put them into a virtual simulation. At the end of it all, Ubisoft will have a lot of code to use for a life-like virtual world for their next game, and the students will have tons of data to publish on their own volition. Ubisoft isn’t making it clear what exactly they’re looking to get out of this ambitious think-tank, but they seem certain that both parties will walk away with something substantial.

But what is La Forge?

I told you, I have no idea. As far as I can guess, they’re going to work together to create the most life-like environment that the world of video games has ever seen. This means that they’re not only going to have to focus on AI, but they’re going to have to work on audio, animation, physics, everything that goes into simulating a virtual environment. I can imagine that the data from this collaborative effort will be put to use in testing physics-based technology that would otherwise be very difficult and time-consuming to test in the real world. I’m thinking testing the stability of future buildings, testing physics-based machines such as prosthetics for lost limbs, and even going so far as to gather data for Tesla cars by putting the code through thousands of situations involving dumb NPCs.

At the end of the day, it’s looking like Ubisoft is going to walk away with their next big idea. Either that, or they’ll be getting a big head-start on the next Watch Dogs game, god help us… (apologies to anyone who likes the series)

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