Allstate Insurance Using Video Games to Refresh Elderly Drivers' Skills... Seriously

October 13 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Social Issues   Year: 2008   Rating: 8 Hot

Allstate, the second-largest insurance provider in the US, recently sent out video games to 100,000 of their clients aged 50 to 75. “The set of five games, together called InSight and made by Posit Science, are designed to improve the mental acuity of older drivers.” Allstate expects to see fewer accidents among the group receiving the video games than from those who did not.

Allstate professes that “ten hours of game play turns the clock back 10 years in terms of memory, useful field of view, processing visual information, and general cognitive functions.”

The idea of training the brain to perform better is something that has been studied for centuries. Think of it as putting your brain through its own workout routine – it needs to do lifts, squats, push-ups and of course cardio. This is most commonly in the form of games.

So will we be seeing more and more brain training in the future?

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10 Future Reality Shows Enabled By Alternate Reality Gaming

September 12 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Entertainment   Year: General   Rating: 4

Prediction: Alternate Reality Gaming and Reality Television will converge in a big way by 2013.

Alternate Reality Gaming is a new “interactive narrative structure that uses the real world as a platform, often involving multiple media and game elements, to tell a story that may be affected by participants’ ideas or actions”, as defined on Wikipedia. Basically, that means a fictitious scenario played out atop the real world.

To date, most of the massively popular ARGs such as The Lost Experience and I Love Bees have been largely organized through the web while serving a broader marketing purpose. But as the genre 1) continues to gain in popularity and 2) the cost of high quality video production continues to decline, it is likely they will gradually develop into a self-sustaining industry capable of generating programs that equal or exceed contemporary broadcast television quality.

This will be made possible by the proliferation of ultra-cheap and capable DV cams, easy and broad wi-fi transfer of footage, smart footage databses, and robust computers/editing programs that can effortlessly manage more video feeds and increase prduction quality in numerous other ways.

For example, it will soon become possible to organize a theme party (i.e., Presidential Campaign Trail), set some basic game rules (i.e. Everyone Must Dress Accordingly, Deliver Stump Speeches, then Vote for the Party President), record the entire experience, and then quickly edit it into a final product good enough to air on, say, a channel like VH1. My guess is amateurs will be capable of producing such programming inside of 5 years time – though by then the primary audience will likely be web-based.

That being the hypothesis, here’s a list of 10 other ARG/Reality Show concepts that I think could be produced over the next 5 years:

1.THE SENATE: This active political reality show pits 100 Americans against one another as they seek re-election by effectively role-playing a live Senate situation. Political parties are formed and dissolved, legislation is proposed and voted on, current events and wild-card situations add spice and flavor. Ultimately, the show serves to mirror and parody real-life politics.

2. FANTASY WILDERNESS ADVENTURE: Small fun-to-watch groups role play a harrowing Robin-Hood-style journey through the wilderness. They proceed from elegant or hilarious sketch-to-sketch and interact with B-actors and extras playing various medieval roles. The final product is an edited story that can be inter-cut with other groups on parallel or complementary adventures.

3. HISTORY: Participants are placed into unique historical and fictional scenarios and must use their role-playing skills to turn the situation to their advantage, often creating alternate versions of past events. The best role-players proceed to the finals where they interact with one another in a grand scenario. Expert judges (historians, psychologists, acting coaches) eliminate the worst player-actors until just one is left standing.

4. HACK ATTACK: America’s best hackers all try to crack a multi-layered and formidable website. They film their efforts via web-cam and provide interview commentary via Skype. The best footage, of both the game leaders and the most interesting personalities, is cut into regular episodes.

5. SECRET AGENT: Ordinary Americans are placed in extraordinary spy situations and must react and solve their assignment. They must unravel clues, decide which characters to trust, and ultimately survive the adventure. The winners are the ones who score the most points by achieving goals in the shortest time span.

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Goertzel: AI to be developed with Open Source and taught through Gaming

October 25 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: 2013   Rating: 4

At today’s big Singularity Summit researcher Ben Goertzel explained to the audience that achieving a working Artificial Intelligence will need to be accomplished through open source software. This of course is a hotly debated topic in the sense that the government may step in to stop development of such a thing. The idea that anyone in the world could then develop an AI freaks out military and political groups (not to mention a lot of the citizenry).

So how does an AI learn?

Ben says games will be used to teach computers to learn functions. You might have a virtual parrot which you’d teach to speak (the parrot being the virtual depiction of the AI itself), or by putting it through virtual world immersion in an interactive digital environment like Second Life, learn a basic skewed version of human reality.

Earth 2100 Game Imagines "Perfect Storm" Catastrophe Scenario

December 31 2008 / by Adam Cutsinger
Category: Metaverse   Year: 2015   Rating: 4 Hot

I wouldn't have predicted ABC News going all bleak futurist, but they did.  Earth 2100 is a massive online roleplaying game that starts out with global turmoil and devastation.  And they're going prime time with it.Earth2100

The project is pretty ambitious, but considering the recent popularity of games like Superstruct and Second Life, there should be no doubt that participation will be high.  To participate you need to record a short fictional video depicting something in 2015, then, based on those submissions, the ABC News people will design a scenario for 2050, then 2070 and finally 2100.

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Teaching Computers Through Gameplay

August 12 2008 / by justinelee / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Entertainment   Year: General   Rating: 3

Human computation, the basis of which is discovering what tasks humans can do to make computers smarter, may someday be responsible for making computers not only smarter, but significantly smarter than humans.

Luis von Ahn, a Computer Science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, and the inventor of the prevalent internet tool CAPTCHA, has made it his life to study human computation.

Human computation has many applications. For example, computers aren’t very good at identifying what appears in an image, but humans are. To make online image searches more accurate, von Ahn developed the ESP game, which led to the creation of Google’s Image Labeler, and finally the compilation of five different games: Games With A Purpose (GWAP.com).

The model of game play works well. The games are fun, foster bonds and competition, and are free. These are all qualities that have attracted high numbers of players – thus, creating a strong effort to make not only image searches more durable, but also bring computers closer to thinking like humans.

The question is, when will all our game playing lead to a smarter computer that no longer needs our help?

In June 2006, von Ahn was invited to the Google campus to give a TechTalk lecture on human computation and brought up some interesting points about the bond and tension between humans and machines:

At one point von Ahn jokes that the interactions he’s created through GWAP could lead to a world similar to the one depicted in The Matrix; that is, one in which machines rule the universe and generate power from human brains.

Although his speculation appeared light-hearted, when I ask von Ahn what he thinks now, he asserts: “I completely believe computers will become every bit as intelligent as humans, possibly even more intelligent. I don’t see why not: the brain is a machine, we just don’t understand how it works yet.”

When will computers be able to think like humans?

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EyeClops Night Vision — A New Reason to Fear Your Children

November 03 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2008   Rating: 2

For a measly $60, your kid can become a Rainbow Six operative with these sweet night vision goggles. EyeClops allows the user to see up to 50 feet in pitch dark conditions using real infrared technology for its display. And while it’s a power-hog (the five AA batteries last about five hours), night vision has been the dream of just about any boy out there who’s parents accidentally let him watch the movie Patriot Games).

Is this a future trend? Military technology making its way into the home as a much friendlier version?

Of course it is. The military has fascinating gadgets — it only makes sense they’d eventually find their way into the hands of our children. BB guns (weapons), remote-control airplanes (Unmanned Aeriel Vehicles), and of course fireworks (explosives). The real question is, what military tech today could wind up in the hands of the next generation?