SL-Bots: Automated and Autonomous Performance Art in Second Life

SL-Bots: Automated and Autonomous Performance Art in Second Life

Jeremy Owen Turner (Simon Fraser University, Canada), Michael Nixon (Simon Fraser University, Canada) and Jim Bizzocchi (Simon Fraser University – Surrey, Canada)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 27
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8384-6.ch012


This chapter explores the history, state-of-the art, and interactive aesthetic potential of “SL-Bots”. SL-Bots are avatars (i.e. “agents”) that are designed and controlled using Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Second Life. Many of these SL-Bots were originally created in Second Life for purposes such as: rudimentary chatinventory management and copying, asset curation, embodied customer service, generic responsive environments, scripted objects, or as proxy-audience members (aka “campers”). However, virtual performance and installation artists – including two of the chapter's authors [ca. 2011-present] - have created their own SL-Bots for aesthetic purposes. This chapter suggests ways in which SL-Bots are gradually being extended beyond their conventional applications as avatar-placeholders. This book chapter concludes with the speculation that future virtual agents (including next generation SL-Bots) might one day transcend their teleological aesthetic purpose as mere automated-objects by evolving into more complex autonomous aesthetic personas.
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Bots In The Artificial Intelligence (Ai, Agi) Context

Artificial agents have been defined as computer systems capable of flexible autonomous action in some environment in order to meet their design objectives (Wooldridge, 2009). Their properties include the following (Wooldridge & Jennings, 1995a):

  • Autonomy: agents operate without direct intervention,

  • Social ability: agents interact with other agents (and possibly humans),

  • Reactivity: agents perceive their environment and respond,

  • Pro-activeness: agents follow goal-directed behavior.

While this “weak” definition of agency can apply to a variety of low-level system tools, agents are more usefully understood with a stronger definition that refers to systems that are conceptualized and implemented using anthropomorphic terms. Typically, this involves designing an agent around human mental notions such as knowledge, belief, intentions, obligations, and even emotions (Wooldridge & Jennings, 1995a). There is a spectrum of approaches to control structures for such agents, from reactive to cognitive strategies. These control systems provide the appropriate degree of reasoning required for the agent to perform tasks in a given environment. Agents that are intended for social and narrative contexts take on whole new kinds of behavior-related “tasks” to perform as an actor in those scenarios.

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