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February 28, 2018 6:00 PM - 7:30 PMTelus Centre 150, University of Alberta

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University of Alberta hosting Leonardo Art, Science, Evening Rendezvous (LASER) on February 28th in TELUS 150, Telus Building, University of Alberta Campus, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2C9.

AI, Games and Creativity  

On February 28th 2018 at 6 PM, the University of Alberta will be featuring three globally renowned artists, designers and scientists to cross pollinate their research and creativity by presenting their own work. The theme of this LASERAlberta is AI, music, gaming and creativity. 

The following will be speaking from 6 PM to 7.30PM:

Vadim Bulitko: Deep Learning, Artificial Evolution and Novel AI Behaviors

Artificial Intelligence is rapidly entering our daily life in the form of smartphone assistants, self-driving cars, etc. While such AI assistants can make our lives easier and safer, there is a growing interest in understanding how long they will remain our intellectual servants. With the powerful applications of self-training and self-learning (e.g., the recent work by Deep Mind on self-learning to play several board games at a championship level), what behaviors will such self-learning AI agents learn? Will there be genuine knowledge discoveries made by them? How much understanding of their novel behavior will we, as humans, be able to gather?

This project builds on our group's 12 years of expertise in developing AI agents learning in areal-time setting and takes a step towards investigating the grand yet pressing questions listed above. We are developing a video-game-like test bed in which we allow our AI agents to evolve over time and learn from their life experience.The agents use genetically encoded deep neural networks to represent behaviors and pass them onto their off-springs in the simulated evolution. A separate deep neural network is then trained to watch the simulation and flag emergence of any unusual behaviours. We expect to study emergence of novel behaviors such as development of friend-foe identification techniques, simple forms of communication, apprenticeship learning and others.

Vadim Bulitko is an Associate Professor at the University of Alberta (Department of Computing Science). He received his Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in1999. Vadim is interested in building strong artificial intelligence as well as understanding intelligence and cognition in humans and animals. He specializes in real-time heuristic search, AI in computer games including interactive narrative and cognitive processes and models.

Scott Smallwood: The Lost Garden: Exploring Audio in Interactive Spaces

The expansion of video games as a medium has precipitated a healthy indie game movement, and created opportunities for media artists to explore interactive art creation. However, audio and music in games is still primarily constrained to sound effects, dialog and emotive accompaniment, thereby lagging behind advances in full-sphere 3D audio and procedurally generated sound. Smallwood’s talk will reflect on several questions in relation to the potential of audio as a major video game mechanic: What if sound were the primary form of interaction? What kinds of musical and sonic experiences can be created in that environment? How might 3D audio enhance that experience? What about field recording and soundscape composition? How could games enhance our understanding of our changing soundscape?

Scott Smallwood is Associate Professor of Music at the University of Alberta. Smallwood listens and makes recordings and observations of places and objects, and draws the resulting sounds into compositions and performances. Ranging from sonic photographs, studio compositions, instrumental pieces, sound installations, and improvisations, the resulting pieces are often textural, always mindful of space and subtlety. Smallwood’s current research focuses on gaming soundscapes.

Mac Walters: Tolstoy Terminators

In the coming decades, we can expect AI to surpass humans in hundreds of tasks. Many, however, believe that the creative fields will remain largely the domain of Homo Sapiens. But after such super-human successes as seen with Alpha Go Zero (and others), can we truly be confident that AI won’t soon surpass us in activities like painting, writing and even video game design? And,moreover, will this be the end of creativity, or the start of a new era?

Mac Walters is a Creative Director at BioWare, where he’s been creating worlds and games for over 14 years. He started as a writer on several AAA titles including Jade Empire, and the Mass Effect Trilogy, and is currently working on BioWare’s latest IP, Anthem. Over the years, Walters has been a part of creating three franchises as well as writing several graphic novels, including the New York Times Bestselling Evolution series.Walters is also author of the recently released Mass Effect: Initiation novel.

LASER (Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous) Talks is Leonardo's international program of evening gatherings that bring artists and scientists together for informal presentations and conversations. LASER Talks were founded in 2008 by Bay Area LASER Chair Piero Scaruffi and are in over 25 cities around the world. To learn more about how our LASER Hostsand to visit a LASER near you please visit our website.  (

The mission of the LASERs is to provide the general public with a snapshot of the cultural environment of a region and to foster interdisciplinary networking.

About Leonardo/ISAST

Leonardo/The International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology (Leonardo/ISAST) is a nonprofit organization that serves the global network of distinguished scholars, artists, scientists, researchers and thinkers through our programs focused on interdisciplinary work, creative output and innovation. From its beginnings, Leonardo/ISAST has served as THE virtual community for purposes of networking, resource-sharing, best practices, research and events in Art/Science/Technology.

SOCIAL MEDIA: #LASERTalks,#LASERAlberta : :Instagram/LeonardoISAST