This post previews the new online autonomous avatar service and community, Fiona, that’s currently in Beta, and describe some of my thoughts regarding the concept. I don’t have access to the beta, but there are some interesting videos explaining the how the community may work and how the online avatars are currently developed and constructed. If you are interested, have a look at this video advertisement below, by the creators of Fiona:
In summary, the idea appears to be: to create a service in which you can create or buy an online avatar (or artificial mind?) to use on websites for customer service and interaction. This service is in conjunction with an online community for people to use and develop the avatars, composed of a collection of “sparks”–what appear to be units for perceptual or cognitive processes. Below is a video demonstration that has been released on how to create an avatar by connecting sparks in the online graphical interface. For people that have some experience with visual programming languages (e.g. MathWorks’ Simulink and LabView) there are some obvious visual similarities.
First of all, for the development of artificial intelligence, an online community could be a good thing for artificial intelligence in general. Since the community is pitched as also being a market for people to develop and sell their spark-programs, that could be an attractive incentive to participating. This sounds like it has the potential to generate interest in artificial intelligence, and provide a viable service for people and businesses that would like to have an interactive avatar on their website.
A more in depth review might be in order once Fiona is out of beta. It will be particularly interesting to see how the visual programming language and underlying framework translate into creating “artificial minds”. Will Fiona be flexible enough to implement any existing cognitive architectures? And will it detract from or be beneficial to other open source projects for artificial general intelligence development, such as OpenCog? Only time will tell.