Scientists have designed a new computer game called "Gorge," which can help children understand artificial intelligence.
In fact, Gorge can also improve the children's social interaction skills.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT in Ilmenau now plan to teach even children what artificial intelligence (AI) is all about.
"To do this, we have developed a very simple computer game called 'Gorge'. Gorge enables children to find out through play how AI works, because they can influence it themselves," said IDMT head of department Prof. Klaus Peter Jantke.
The rules of Gorge are simple: Teams of pieces have to move around a board and reach a destination, rather like in 'Ludo'. The die decides where a piece has to move to. Jostling is allowed - so if a piece lands on a square already occupied by another piece, it is pushed onto the next unoccupied square.
The paths are crisscrossed by gorges, which inspired the name of the game. A piece can only cross a gorge if helped by another piece. Then this piece can decide whether to help the other piece get out again or leave it to perish in the gorge - in other words, it can adopt the role of a hero or a villain.
"The great thing about this game is that not only people can play against each other. You can also play against the computer, or have one computer play against another," said Jantke.
He added: "That's even more exciting because the person can set how 'good' or 'bad' the machine is. For example, the player can define a rule that says: "If you find someone in a gorge, you must always pull them out. Or: "Never go into a gorge."
Thus, children can decide for themselves whether they prefer to play against a good or a bad opponent.
And they can observe what sort of behavioural patterns the artificially intelligent machine develops, whether its actions are more aggressive or more defensive.
Children can make interesting observations about AI and thus learn a lot about it.
The researchers will be presenting a prototype of "Gorge" at CeBIT in Hannover on March 3 to 8.