Advisory Board

Professor Michael Mateas

The USA Today article Second Life has a special guest: artificial intelligence said

Edd Hifeng barely merits a second glance in “Second Life”. A steel-gray robot with lanky limbs and linebacker shoulders, he looks like a typical avatar in the popular virtual world.
But Edd is different.
His actions are animated not by a person at a keyboard but by a computer. Edd is a creation of artificial intelligence, or AI, by researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, who endowed him with a limited ability to converse and reason. It turns out “Second Life” is more than a place where pixelated avatars chat, interact and fly about.
“Second Life” is attractive to researchers in part because virtual reality is less messy than plain-old reality. Researchers don’t have to worry about wind, rain, or coffee spills.
And virtual worlds can push along AI research without forcing scientists to solve the most difficult problems — like, say, creating a virtual human — right away, said Michael Mateas, a computer science professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz.
Researching in virtual realities has become increasingly popular the past couple years, said Mateas, leader of the school’s Expressive Intelligence Studio for AI and gaming.
“It’s a fantastic sweet spot — not too simple, not too complicated, high cultural value,” he said.

Michael Mateas, Ph.D. is Associate Professor, Computer Science Department, University of California, Santa Cruz.
Michael runs the Expressive Intelligence Studio at UC Santa Cruz, where he explores the intersection of artificial intelligence, art and design. His goal is to create compelling new forms of interactive art and entertainment that provide more deeply autonomous, generative and dynamic responses to interaction.
A major thrust of his work is advanced AI for videogames, including autonomous characters and interactive storytelling. By viewing AI as an expressive medium, his work raises and answers novel AI research questions while pushing the boundaries of the conceivable and possible in interactive experiences. Current projects in the group include automated support for game generation, automatic generation of autonomous character conversations, story management, and authoring tools for interactive storytelling.
Michael coedited Narrative Intelligence (Advances in Consciousness Research), authored Procedural Literacy: Educating the New Media Practitioner and Semiotic Considerations in an Artificial Intelligence-based Art Practice, and coauthored Alien Presence in the Home: The Design of Tableau Machine, The Disenchantment of Affect, Declarative Optimization-Based Drama Management in the Interactive Fiction Anchorhead, Asking What is Possible: The Georgia Tech Approach to Games Research and Education, and A Behavior Language for Story-based Believable Agents. Read the full list of his publications!
Michael earned his B.S. in Engineering Physics at the University of the Pacific in 1989, his M.S. in Computer Science at Portland State University in 1993, and his Ph.D. in Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University in 2002.
Watch Gaming and Visualization for Medicine — Michael Mateas and Authoring and Expression. Read Behind Façade: An Interview with Andrew Stern and Michael Mateas.