Preserving and Simulating Cultures in Virtual Worlds
Culture is not something one can easily learn from a book. The traditional way of capturing and preserving various attributes of a culture involves the results of archaeological excavations in combination with written sources. This results in a set of functional descriptions and illustrations that describe a culture. The drawbacks of this approach include the lack of realism and interactivity, and moreover it is difficult to recreate, preserve and teach culture simply through the use of text and diagrams.
The overall goal of our project is to preserve and simulate cultures within 3D Virtual Worlds, where a heritage site is reconstructed and populated with autonomous computational agents behaving similar to the actual people representing the given culture. In order to solve this task we will extend our work (Bogdanovych et al., 2010) based on the combination of the Virtual Institutions technology (Bogdanovych & Simoff, 2011) in combination with imitation learning (for teaching cultural characteristics to autonomous agents through embodied interactions with human experts). We populate Virtual Worlds with computational agents capable of capturing expert knowledge, improving it through social learning and then teaching ancient cultures to visitors through embodied interactions. This project will build on our existing technology that was used for simulating the culture of the city of Uruk in the Virtual World of Second Life (Bogdanovych, et. al., 2011) and recently won 3rd place in the international artificial intelligence contest (Orlando, Florida, February, 2011 organised by US Army), and the research and technologies developed from the ARC grant DP0879789.