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Prix 1987 - 2007

ORF Oberösterreich

Alpha Wolf
The Synthetic Character Group

The research behind the „AlphaWolf“ installation is informed by the biology and behavior of the gray wolf („Canis lupus“). In their natural environment, real wolves form hierarchical social relationships within their packs, where certain individuals are dominant over other individuals. The virtual wolves in this installation form social relationships as well, interacting with each social partner in a way that reflects their history of previous interactions. Just as real wolves exhibit stereotypical dominance and submission behaviors to demonstrate and maintain their social relationships, the virtual wolves in the Alpha-Wolf installation express their relationships through their animated behaviors.

The „AlphaWolf“ project represents the second year of a multi-year project by the Synthetic Characters Group at the MIT Media Lab under the direction of Bruce Blumberg. Through this project, we aim to develop autonomous animated characters whose behavioral complexity, expressiveness, and ability to learn rival those of a real dog or wolf. In addition to extending our previous work, „AlphaWolf“ explores the computational representations that must be in place to enable social learning and the formation of context-specific emotional memories. As well as showcasing the virtual minds and bodies of the wolves themselves, the installation features a suite of supporting technology, including evocative real-time computer graphics, autonomous cinematography, and dynamic scoring and sound design.

Creating virtual creatures with social and emotional competence is central to the field of artificial intelligence. Simple computational models for the formation of social relationships may suggest new alternatives in the fields of animal behavior and computational biology. Finally, the entertainment industry, with its emphases on real-time interactivity (e.g., computer games) and expressive characters (e.g., movies), might find a range of uses for socially-savvy computational creatures.