An Intelligent Guide for Virtual Environments

Reference: Doyle, P. & Hayes-Roth, B. An Intelligent Guide for Virtual Environments. Knowledge Systems Laboratory, July, 1996.

Abstract: In T. H. White's famous retelling of the Arthurian legend, the aged wizard Merlyn is tutor to the young boy Wart, who will grow up to be King Arthur. Through his magic, Merlyn changes Wart into different creatures and transports him to alien environments so he can learn about worlds other than his own. In this paper, we introduce Merlyn as an autonomous intelligent agent, whose purpose is to be a guide and companion to children in their explorations of virtual worlds. Merlyn has an integrated personality and variable moods, so he will be a companion rather than a tool for the child's use. We discuss how Merlyn operates in 'annotated environments,' where the perceived world is reflected in data structures directly accessible to a broad variety of agents. Merlyn becomes more knowledgeable about such worlds as he travels with the child, and he can use these annotations to guide his choice of interactions -- in playing games, for example. Annotations also allow Merlyn to 'endow' the child with environment-specific capabilities to guide the child's experiential learning. Merlyn is also capable of monitoring the child's interests and abilities, and tailoring his personality and actions to them. With Merlyn as a companion, a child can be guided into strategically-chosen learning activities while having a friendly, entertaining experience in the virtual environment.

Full paper available as ps.

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