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GamesBeat Summit 2024: Will Wright on his new game Proxi and the future of AI

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Legendary game designer and SimCity creator Will Wright believes that AI will be a transformative force in game development, and he hopes that his new project will help illustrate some of those possibilities.

“Right now, we’re just seeing the earliest uses of AI in the gaming industry. But it is going to be huge, I’m sure,” said Wright during a panel at GamesBeat Summit 2024. “And it’s not just going to be NPCs having interesting conversations, but simple things like voice cloning, synthetic voices, not having to write a billion lines of dialogue because it can be generated … then building 3D models, building out worlds dynamically. There’s so many different uses.”

Wright and Numenta CEO Subutai Ahmad went back and forth on their thoughts about the potential of AI agents in games. Numenta leveraged its 18 years of neuroscience research to create a commercial AI solution called the Numenta Platform for Intelligent Computing (NuPIC). Last year, Gallium Studios (where Wright currently works) announced a partnership with Numenta, using NuPIC for its upcoming AI simulation game Proxi.

“Today’s AI and deep learning use a little bit of neuroscience, but it’s the sort of neuroscience from the ’40s and ’50s, just a core concept of what a neuron is,” said Ahmad. “But in neuroscience, there’s been decades of research where we’ve discovered tremendous things about the brain. And none of that is included in today’s AI at all.”

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One area he highlighted was how the brain uses only 20 watts of power, which is extremely efficient compared to what he called the “planet-harming levels of power” that today’s large language models (LLMs) use. Numenta incorporated those learnings into NuPIC, which can make AI up to 100 times more efficient and help studios achieve high performance running LLMs on CPUs.

That efficiency is the main reason why Gallium chose to partner with Numeta on Proxi. Proxi will allow players to input pivotal moments from their lives and bring them to life using media such as 3D objects, audio, and photos. It then analyzes these core memories and creates player avatars known as Proxis. Each Proxi avatar is a dynamic model of how players feel, think, and behave with the world around them based on the memories they input.

“We’re trying to basically reverse-engineer the model that you have in the world,” said Wright. “And then from that, we can start looking at patterns, and that’s a lot of what we want to use AI for, to start finding patterns in your mind, in your id. A lot of it is subconscious — that you didn’t even know you had — and reflected back to you and maybe drill in on them.”

Proxi will build a gaming experience around those personal moments, creating a SimCity-like world for you to explore. You’ll also be able to build shared worlds (and thus share your memories) with other players.

“I want people to put down real memories, good and bad, from their lives so we can build a fairly accurate map of [their psyches],” said Wright. “In some sense, it’s not exactly building an NPC, it’s more about building a PC.”

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