Skip to comments.'Gaming could be an antidote to a world where jobs have been automated' - Improbable CEO
Posted on 11/03/2017 9:48:34 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
The CEO of London startup Improbable spoke about the possibility of virtual worlds and gaming being an antidote to a world where jobs have been automated.
Herman Narula, the co-founder and CEO of Improbable Worlds Limited, a London startup building the infrastructure for massive virtual worlds to be developed, says that "gaming could be an antidote to a world where jobs have been automated".
While speaking at Wired Live in London yesterday the CEO directly referenced science fiction from The Matrix, author William Gibson and Ernest Clines 2011 novel Ready Player One.
It is this last reference which seems the most apt, as the novel depicts a world wracked by environmental and social issues which has seen most people retreat into a virtual world run by a massive multinational conglomerate.
Speaking on stage, Narula said that with 2.6 billion people playing video games today it "is drastically important to our society in a way that we need to wake up to".
"Why I think it is so important is it is beginning to go beyond playing. Now, video games and game worlds are starting to produce behaviour that doesn't look just like people entertaining themselves by engaging with the game directly. We are starting to see players become professionals, become creators."
The young CEO went on to make a prediction: "What we are about to see is a further transformation from video games that are all about playing, to games that become more like worlds, where value can be created, jobs perhaps can be had, experiences can occur which can blur the boundaries between simply passively consuming something and having meaningful experiences."
Narula spoke about the singularity, a term coined by science fiction author Vernor Vinge to encapsulate the idea that artificial superintelligence could abruptly trigger runaway technological growth and automation, causing a seismic shift to society.
Narula said that this concept was something his investor, SoftBank CEO and multi-billionare Masayoshi Son talks about often. Improbable raised a massive $500 million (£388 million) from SoftBank earlier this year.
Naturally, both Narula and Son see the singularity with rose tinted glasses or, more importantly, as an opportunity.
"What it should mean to people, beyond a world where AI and autonomous systems create enormous wealth and productivity, is a world where humans have very little to do," Narula said. "Jobs are going to be automated at a fairly frightening rate. I think gaming could be a very important antidote to some of the challenges we might encounter in an automated society.
"Game worlds represent a place where labour doesn't need to be automated, there is no point, and the kind of activities that game worlds support and the value creation they support are intrinsically resistant to AI. They are in fact kind of wonderfully, quintessentially human activity. It is our culture abstracted away from the real world and put into a form where people can create value in unimaginable ways.
"Who would have thought that video games can save the world, but perhaps they can."
Looking further forward, Narula doesn't believe that "virtual worlds will replace the real world, I think we will find ourselves living these interesting, multi-versal lives, jumping between worlds, engaging with people and activities that today we can scarcely imagine but all happening in the context of a much larger more rich experience of life".
This sort of tech utopianism is problematic. The idea that retreating into virtual worlds to avoid the problems we have created in the real world, and the implication this has in terms of putting wealth into the hands of the gatekeepers of this world, is the sort of dystopian vision that would give the authors Narula earlier referenced nightmares.
A computer science graduate from Cambridge, the 29-year old went on to speak about the importance of developing distributed computing to drive the technological feasibility of truly immersive virtual worlds.
Naturally, this is where Improbable comes in. Narula says "there is no technological, fundamental constraint that means those futures aren't possible. So we have to assume they come about and if they do we have to wonder what our lives might be like".
Called SpatialOS, Improbable is designing a platform-as-a-service running across distributed servers which promises to be able to host massive virtual worlds with huge volumes of concurrent users and compute-intensive AI-powered elements.
SpatialOS is a new type of development platform that transcends the limitations of the old client/server model. It connects servers in the cloud so that your online game sees them as one massively powerful server, providing access to nearly unlimited player connections and compute, the company states on its website.
"To make that happen, a sort of technological change is happening behind the scenes of the games industry," Naurla said. "You might think that I am talking about VR here but I'm not, because the key is not necessarily how we immerse ourselves in these worlds, it is what these worlds themselves allow for. The big change that we are beginning to see and that the industry is starting to move towards is massive scale."
There is a pretty good book called Ready Player One ... which is coming out as a movie soon, that is somewhat based on this premise. It is a pretty fun book, with lots of fun 1980-1990s trivia.
Elon Musk on universal basic income: ‘It’s going to be ‘It’s going to be necessary’
UBI is just a bedtime story Elon Musk tells himself to help the super-wealthy sleep
The very idea of no jobs is ludicrous. When labor prices get very low due to technological changes, people become servants. The idea that robots will replace servants is also ludicrous. People have servants because it’s a high-status thing to order people around. They’ll always be a market for it.
Interesting article but I see no reason why AI droids could not game and participate along with humans. So I am not sure I accept their premise.
I miss the days when Orwellian science fiction had the decency to be put off into a distant future. Having it as a zeitgeist is eye-rolling. But per Stanley Kubrick, by 2001 we were supposed to have regular service to the moon so maybe there’s no need to put dystopia off very far when you’re soaking in it.
We’d have been much further along in space had folks like Fritz Mondale and Bill Proxmire not helped hamper NASA. I believe it was Gordo Cooper who explicitly blamed Proxmire for stopping the next goal of putting a man on Mars by the 1970s/80s. In a lot of ways, we’re worse off and further away from these goals than we were in the ‘50s (and it’s all become exponentially more expensive).
Opium used to be fun....
Hey, if I could replace people with that robot from Rocky IV i would
Read it and enjoyed it.
I told people years ago that when the technology had advanced to the point that fantasy was a far better substitute for reality, people would retreat into fantasy worlds.
It would be far, far worse than any drug addiction.
As smart as some of these people are.. they could benefit from an Economics class. Robots are great...but when you reduce labor to 0 cost, it will drive the cost of the products / services down as well... which means you have to sell more to maintain sales / profit levels... but.. since everyone is being replaced by computers... there is no one to buy the hamburger or haircut or robot picked lettuce... so while it is neat to think about ... in reality, over the long term... robots are not going to replace everyone. With that said.. we don’t need to be importing a bunch of low skilled labor into this country..because if they are ever not able to eat... they could start burning things... then we lose all the robots...
>As smart as some of these people are.. they could benefit from an Economics class. Robots are great...but when you reduce labor to 0 cost, it will drive the cost of the products / services down as well... which means you have to sell more to maintain sales / profit levels... but.. since everyone is being replaced by computers... there is no one to buy the hamburger or haircut or robot picked lettuce... so while it is neat to think about ... in reality, over the long term... robots are not going to replace everyone. With that said.. we dont need to be importing a bunch of low skilled labor into this country..because if they are ever not able to eat... they could start burning things... then we lose all the robots...
Funny, you basically just described the book “The Diamond Age” by Neal Stephenson
But I suspect, before we reach that point, outsiders could crash in and start to destroy the system, declaring the entire system evil. In some part of this fantasy complex, people will have to wake up and defend themselves from invasion. If their defense is successful, they can live on, but no longer be happy folks inside the dream fantasy. They may have to face both harsh reality outside and happy machine-generated fantasy inside the complex.
That doesnt stop automation. It just results in societal self destruction. Thats one of the appeals of a UBI - it creates consumers out of the jobless. If automation works it could begin ushering is into a post-scarcity society.
By the same token, people have horses because they are a high-status thing to have. These so-called "horseless carriages" will never really catch on!
QUESTION: Just how big is the market for human servants? I mean, how many people today in America are working as actual domestics? And whom would you rather have cleaning your toilets, sorting your undies, or drawing your bath? A human servant (who might be secretly spitting into your food, inadvertently sneezing onto your bedsheets, unthinkingly picking his nose while he folds the napkins)? Or a gleaming android?
Actually, the robotic servants will often be so unobtrusive (e.g., self-cleaning toilets, "intelligent" washing machines, built-in water temperature regulators, etc.) that you won't even be aware of them. Things will seem to happen "by magic."
I agree! Robots are going to replace only about 99% of everyone. So, I guess that means that this is a fake problem, and we shouldn't devote any more attention to it.
First published in 1909!
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