The rise of generative AI has reignited interest in the simulation theory, which postulates that the world we live in is actually a simulation created by a more advanced civilization: the theory says that as civilizations advance, they’re able to create life-like simulations of themselves, which in turn create simulations of themselves, which makes it quite unlikely that the world we’re living is base reality. It’s a hard concept to wrap one’s head around, but recent developments in AI have brought the theory much closer to reality. And now OpenAI, the company with the most sophisticated AI models as of now, could be trying to create some virtual worlds of its own.
OpenAI has acquired the team at Global Illumination, a startup which has built an open-source virtual world. “The entire team has joined OpenAI to work on our core products including ChatGPT. Global Illumination is a company that has been leveraging AI to build creative tools, infrastructure, and digital experiences. The team previously designed and built products early on at Instagram and Facebook and have also made significant contributions at YouTube, Google, Pixar, Riot Games, and other notable companies. We’re very excited for the impact they’ll have here at OpenAI,” OpenAI said in a blogpost.
Global Illumination had created a game called Biomes, which it billed as an “open source sandbox MMORPG built for the web”. “Build, forage, play minigames and more, all right from your browser,” the game told its users.
Now there have been several other attempts to put AI into such games. A paper recently had create such a game with 25 AI participants who were powered by LLMs, and got them to interact with one another. The researchers had discovered that they AI agents had had conversations, coordinate, and even managed to throw and show up for a party. VC firm Andreessen Horowitz had even funded a portfolio company to create a open-source AI world named AI Town where users can build AI worlds with characters with specific personalities.
And with OpenAI acquiring a company that builds AI worlds, it appears that those are the forefront of the field are interested in creating AI worlds as well. This could prove to be a fairly pivotal moment in the history of AI. If AI can create convincing worlds in which characters could interact, it could have a host of applications: these characters could replace NPC characters in videos games, and these worlds could become popular reality TV for humans, like a real-life Truman Show. And who knows, such initiatives might eventually throw some light on whether our own world might be one such simulations as well, and perhaps provide some clues as how to escape it.