Imitation Gaming: Wargaming and Artificial Life

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Mason, Roger. "Imitation Gaming: Wargaming and Artificial Life." Available as of April 2023 as an on-line article here.[1]

Note: Roger Mason is the Initial Compiler's neighbor and friend; relevantly, he professionally lectures and teaches (war)gaming to people who need to take such games very seriously. The article avoids jargon and is suitable for lay readers, and deals with Artificial Intelligence (AI) as well as "Artificial Life" (AL, A-Life, "Artif. Life", or, as here "ALife").

After briefly defining terms, the article gives four questions from the work of Alan Turing (this Wiki cites Turing's classic AI article here) — and goes on to apply such questions to ALife games.

1. Can a machine be programmed to follow the rules of chess?
2. Can a machine solve chess problems given the position of the pieces?
3. Can a machine play a reasonable game of chess?
4. Can a machine learn from playing chess.

"Turing believed this was possible, and the current state of intelligence development confirms it is true. Is this also true for games with ALife?"

"Can an autonomous agent in an ALife game solve problems given the positions of the pieces?" — With more difficulty than with AI.

"Can an ALife agent play a reasonable wargame? I think the answer is yes. Wargames are dissimilar to chess. Wargames do not have a ranking system for gameplay or player abilities." — But, in his first ALife game, on crowd control (and riot prevention or suppression), "The live players were [...] completely convinced a human player was making the [...] moves" for the demonstrators.

"Can an ALife agent learn from its game experience? The answer is no. AI [in gaming contexts] involves artificial intelligence 'agents' that perceive their environment and take actions to achieve their goals. AI agents are multi-dimensional. They can store knowledge and learn from past experiences. ALife involves agents that appear to be alive by pre-programmed actions that mimic life. They are one dimensional. When the game is over the experiences are lost and capabilities of the agent default to their original setting."

Still, ALife games can get complex and can mimic life, including humans' ability to forego loyalty and switch sides.

Gives the example of an artificial life war game developed by Decision Games, based on an episode in the World War II Battle of Kursk:[2] "the night attack on the fortified town of Rzhavets." (The game results were similar to the historical outcome.)

RDE, 23Ap23