Philosophy :)

"AI.Planet is a virtual world for artificial intelligence."

It has to start somewhere.
It has to start sometime.

What better place than here?
What better time than NOW?

Why do we want artificial intelligence?  It will make our environment smarter.  Imagine a robot that can live in our world, that can think and function independently for its own survival, to aid and complement human beings.  To do this, the robot would need to be able to cope with the extremely complex environment of Earth.  It would have to be aware of the weather when it is bad, but be able to ignore the weather when it is favorable, and concentrate on the task at hand, like building a house.  For example if we send robots to Mars they will have to be able to survive the unpredictable environment of Mars, yet still be productive.

Why do we need a virtual world?  The real world is too complex for modern computers.  A robots mind must be able to understand an abstract version of Earth.  Once it understands a simple model of Earth, we could increase the complexity of that model.  Once the robot understands that, we could increase the complexity even more.  So, in a linear fashion, we keep raising the complexity of the model in accordance with the robots ability to understand.  Eventually, we will reach a stage where the complexity of the virtual environment reaches the same complexity of our own environment.  At that point, the robot would be capable of surviving the physical world.

Why do we need a virtual world for artificial intelligence?  Well, if AI is just sitting around on your computer, in a bleak void, then its not going to be very fun.  Also, understanding the weather (not just predicting it) and other environmental influences could lead to improvement in global anti-missile defense systems, which would prevent nuclear catastrophe.  So, if you believe every word I say, aiplanet could prevent World War 3.  Isn't that a cause worth fighting for?

Why fish, birds, crabs, and beachballs?  It's not that the goal of our virtual environment is to simulate these things, but it has to be able to.  If a virtual reality cannot emulate a bird flying around, then it is hopeless.  The more variety of animals, objects, and physics, the better.  The only way to test if the environment can handle the existence of a simulated fish is to put a simulated fish in it. 

Why OpenSource?  This project is not funded by a university or by a corporation, in fact it has no funding whatsoever.  It is made in spare time, and is built with OpenSource tools such as GLScene.  To keep with this spirit of sharing and free collaboration, ai.planet is stored on a CVS for anyone with the talent to download/modify the codebase.  What is the point of developing a nice world for AI if only a handful of people get to play with it?  This technology is for everyone to use.  Yes, there are many better virtual reality engines out there, but as of this writing, ai.planet is the only OpenSource artificial life engine.  If you enjoy this project and want to see it succeed then please contribute.

What about the Terminator or the Matrix?  I love those movies, thanks for asking!  Are you implying that if humans develop artificially intelligent robots, they will form SkyNet or The Matrix and enslave humanity?  If so I thought ahead: to avoid this scenario Ai.Planet is OpenSource, which means everyone in the world can have the code.  You can only take over the world if you are the only one with weapons.  One guy with a gun always loses to a hundred guys with guns.  This is the most frequent concern people spoken to me about aiplanet.  I hope I have alleviated your fears about the future, to all those who are worried.

Written by Dave and Dushan