Flatworld Ribbon Cutting

Flatworld Ribbon Cutting

Bringing Hollywood Pizazz to Military Training

Read about ICT in the New York Times article, “Bringing Hollywood Pizazz to Military Training.”

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Hollywood Think Tank Helping Army

The Associated Press wrote about ICT in an article titled, “Hollywood think tank creating terror scenarios.”

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New Army Soldiers: Game Gamers

Wired featured ICT in a story, “New Army Soldiers: Game Gamers.”

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U.S. Filmmakers Mull Terror Scenarios for Army

Reuters reported that the Army will fund video games for aspiring commanders.

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Army enlists Hollywood in anti-terror war

The Chicago Tribune published “Army enlists Hollywood in anti-terror war” about ICT.

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Jay Douglas, Jonathan Gratch: “Interactive Storytelling, or How AI, Hollywood, and Multiprocessing Operating Systems can Live Happily Ever After”

Interacting Storytelling systems integrate AI techniques such as planning with narrative representations to generate stories. In this paper, we discuss the use of planning formalisms in Interactive Storytelling from the perspective of story generation and authoring. We compare two different planning formalisms, Hierarchical Task Network (HTN) planning and Heuristic Search Planning (HSP). While HTN provide a strong basis for narrative coherence in the context of interactivity, HSP offer additional flexibility and the generation of stories and the mechanisms for generating comic situations.

Stacy Marsella, Jonathan Gratch: “Modeling the Interplay of Emotions and Plans in Multi-Agent Simulations”

The goal of this research is to create general computational models of the interplay between affect, cognition and behavior. These models are being designed to support characters that act in virtual environments, make decisions, but whose behavior also suggests an underlying emotional current. We attempt to capture both the cognitive and behavioral aspects of emotion, circumscribed to the role emotions play in the performance of concrete physical tasks. We address how emotions arise from an evaluation of the relationship between environmental events and an agent’s plans and goals, as well as the impact of emotions on behavior, in particular the impact on the physical expressions of emotional state through suitable choice of gestures and body language. The approach is illustrated within a virtual reality training environment.

Paul Debevec receives Significant Young Researcher Award

Significant Young Researcher Award given to Paul Debevec at SIGGRAPH 2001 conference. This award is given annually to a young researcher for signicant achievement in graphics research. 2001 was the first year this award was given, so Paul is the first recipient.

Jonathan Gratch, Stacy Marsella: “Tears and Fears: Modeling emotions and emotional behaviors in synthetic agents”

Emotions play a critical role in creating engaging and believable characters to populate virtual worlds. Our goal is to create general computational models to support characters that act in virtual environments, make decisions, but whose behavior also suggests an underlying emotional current. In service of this goal, we integrate two complementary approaches to emotional modeling into a single unified system. Gratch’s Émile system focuses on the problem of emotional appraisal: how emotions arise from an evaluation of how environmental events relate to an agent’s plans and goals. Marsella et al. ‘s IPD system focuses more on the impact of emotions on behavior, including the impact on the physical expressions of emotional state through suitable choice of gestures and body language. This integrated model is layered atop Steve, a pedagogical agent architecture, and exercised within the context of the Mission Rehearsal Exercise, a prototype system designed to teach decision- making skills in highly evocative situations.

Bill Swartout, Randall Hill, Jonathan Gratch, Stacy Marsella, Jacki Morie, Jeff Rickel, Marcus Thiebaux, Bill Swartout: “Toward the Holodeck: Integrating Graphics, Sound, Character and Story”

We describe an initial prototype of a holodeck- like environment that we have created for the Mission Rehearsal Exercise Project. The goal of the project is to create an experience learning system where the participants are immersed in an environment where they can encounter the sights, sounds, and circumstances of real-world scenarios. Virtual humans act as characters and coaches in an interactive story with pedagogical goals.

Stacy Marsella, Jonathan Gratch, Jeff Rickel: “The Effect of Affect: Modeling the Impact of Emotional State on the Behavior of Interactive Virtual Humans”

A person’s behavior provides significant information about their emotional state, attitudes, and attention. Our goal is to create virtual humans that convey such information to people while interacting with them in virtual worlds. The virtual humans must respond dynamically to the events surrounding them, which are fundamentally influenced by users’ actions, while providing an illusion of human-like behavior. A user must be able to interpret the dynamic cognitive and emotional state of the virtual humans using the same nonverbal cues that people use to understand one another. Towards these goals, we are integrating and extending components from three prior systems: a virtual human architecture with a range of cognitive and motor capabilities, a model of emotional appraisal, and a model of the impact of emotional state on physical behavior. We describe the key research issues, our approach, and an initial implementation in an Army peacekeeping scenario.

Simulation Technology May Help Train US Peacekeeping Forces

In an article titled “The Mission Rehearsal Exercise, A Virtual Reality Tour de Force” the University of Southern California Chronicle discusses how ICT’s simulation technology may help train U.S. peacekeeping forces like the real thing.

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Randall Hill, Jonathan Gratch, Stacy Marsella, Bill Swartout, David Traum: “Virtual Humans in the Mission Rehearsal Exercise System”

How can simulation be made more compelling and effective as a tool for learning? This is the question that the Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) set out to answer when it was formed at the University of Southern California in 1999, to serve as a nexus between the simulation and entertainment communities. The ultimate goal of the ICT is to create the Experience Learning System (ELS), which will advance the state of the art in virtual reality immersion through use of high-resolution graphics, immersive audio, virtual humans and story-based scenarios. Once fully realized, ELS will make it possible for participants to enter places in time and space where they can interact with believable characters capable of conversation and action, and where they can observe and participate in events that are accessible only through simulation.

Jeff Rickel, Jonathan Gratch, Randall Hill, Stacy Marsella, Bill Swartout: “Steve Goes to Bosnia: Towards a New Generation of Virtual Humans for Interactive Experiences”

Interactive virtual worlds provide a powerful medium for entertainment and experiential learning. Our goal is to enrich such virtual worlds with virtual humans { autonomous agents that support face-to-face interac- tion with people in these environments in a variety of roles. While supporting face-to-face interaction in vir- tual worlds is a daunting task, this paper argues that the key building blocks are already in place. We pro- pose an ambitious integration of core technologies cen- tered on a common representation of task knowledge, and we describe an implemented virtual world and set of characters for an Army peacekeeping scenario that illustrates our vision.

Paul Debevec goes to Europe to scan for the Parthenon Project

Paul Debevec goes to Europe to scan for the Parthenon Project.

Military experts are seeking ways to reduce deadliness and destructiveness in urban warfare

“Fighting in The Streets” in IEEE Spectrum is about how military experts, faced with the mounting likelihood of urban warfare, are seeking ways to reduce its deadliness and destructiveness.

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FIPA Software Prototype Award at the International Conference on Autonomous Agents 2001

FIPA Software Prototype Award (First Place) at the International Conference on Autonomous Agents 2001. Awarded to Mission Rehearsal Exercise system. Reviewers commented positively on the deeply interdisciplinary nature of the effort and pointed out that when mature the technology would have broad application and utility. Background: In 2001, the Autonomous Agents conference started a special track to feature implemented systems that employed agent technology in ground-breaking ways.