We live in interesting times where events have unfolded that very few people anticipated, even the pioneers of the AI revolution. In our last edition, we featured an article showcasing an early example of Generative AI producing remarkable artwork from text. In just one year, this technology has advanced significantly and what was once remarkable is now outstanding and extraordinary. We take a comprehensive look at this new field, particularly our exposure to this technology. One notable example is ChatGPT, which has had a significant cultural impact.
In terms of our product line-up, our most important updates have been to our Chess game. While using our products for casual entertainment, we often find ourselves thinking about how they could be improved. For instance, while playing Chess with the “show pieces in danger” option enabled, I noticed that it did not prevent me from moving a piece needed to defend another piece or ensure that it occupied a safe square. This often resulted in having to take moves back when playing casually, disrupting the flow of the game. To address this issue, we implemented two optional levels of safety checks for piece movement. Level 1 checks whether a piece can safely enter a square, while Level 2 checks whether moving the piece may cause a loss on another part of the board. This update provides a “safe” casual mode of play and serves as a valuable teaching tool.
We also conducted rigorous testing of our Chess game to check for previously undetected faults and found a simple coding error that weakened the program. Such errors can be difficult to detect within a tree search as the search can compensate for them, turning a major fault into a minor one. This issue has been fixed and our Chess game remains top-rated.
This year, we returned to GDC in San Francisco for the first time in three years. The first shock was discovering that both the hotel and bike rental service I used previously were gone. Many hotels were marked as “permanently closed” due to the pandemic’s impact. Despite being over a year since the pandemic ended, Covid-19 was still present and I contracted it upon my return, along with 30 colleagues and their associates. Some lectures were cancelled or presented via video due to presenters having Covid-19. An issue in the US is that the vaccination rate is lower than the UK, as low as 30% in some regions. The street artwork above shows something of the public measures used to try and persuade people to protect themselves.
Despite these setbacks, it was great to be back at GDC. It felt strange to revisit circumstances that now seemed like distant memories. The talks were engaging with many competing tracks and it was refreshing to be surrounded by so many enthusiastic people.
Last year, we also contributed substantial funds towards building a Vocational Centre in Nepal where young people can learn trades such as carpentry, plumbing, electrics, tailoring, fabrication and welding before returning to their home villages to start businesses. This is a worthwhile use of AI Factory’s increasing capacity for agency in the world.
Another successful year has passed and we are now preparing for the imminent release of improved versions of Backgammon and Spades based on beta feedback.