In 1983 Matthew Broderick (and Ally Sheedy) starred in a movie about a computer whiz kid who, while looking to hack into computers containing the latest games coming out, stumbles onto a military computer and almost launches WWIII.
(BIG SPOILER FOR MOVIE FROM 25 YEARS AGO) ((IF YOU DON’T WANT TO RUIN THE ENDING OF A MOVIE YOU HAVE CHOSEN TO IGNORE FOR TWO AND ONE HALF DECADES READ NO MORE!!! until the next segment of the post)) (((I AM NOT KIDDING!!!)))
Spoiler warnings crack me up.
Called War Games, the only way Matthew is able to stop the nuclear strikes is to teach the computer that the only way to win a game you can’t win, (examples including Thermonuclear War and Tic Tac Toe), is to not play the game at all.
The funny thing is that if he hadn’t played the games anyway, the computer would never have learned that lesson. Plus, this computer enjoyed playing games so much that he kept stalking poor Mathew by dialing him up and issuing the ominous challenge, “Shall We Play a Game?” in that great 1980’s computer font and synthetic voice.
Well, if you want to play games and teach computers you now have your chance.
Last week Carnegie Mellons School of Computer Science launched a new site called GWAP. GWAP, which stands for Games With A Purpose, are using the results from game play to improve image and audio searches, teach computers to see and enhance the artificial intelligence structures and algorithms that decision making is based on. In a nutshell you play simple games and the computer gets smarter.
I have taken the opportunity, research wise I assure you, to play these games and they are quite fun.
For example, in ESP, they match you with another random and anonymous person and you engage in a guessing game. They show you a picture and then you type in what you see. If it matches what the other person types as what they see, then you move on to the next image. A’la the game Taboo, there are some words you cannot use.
Other games include:
Matchin (A Question of Taste) in which you judge which of two images is more appealing.
Tag a Tune (Hear Here) searching for music without using the title but based on the qualities of the song
Verbosity (It’s Common Sense) which tests your common sense and amasses information.
Squigl (Ready Set Trace) in which players trace the outlines of objects and in turn help computers recognize them by shape.
Some information from the GWAP website:
The Team. The person who made this site possible is our chief engineer, Mike Crawford. He agreed to move from Australia to Pittsburgh to work on this project -- ha! In addition, Michael Brotzman, Severin Hacker (yes, his last name really is Hacker), Edith Law, Bryant Lee, and Edison Tan all spent countless hours architecting the games and the site. Ryan Staake was our ninja graphic designer.