Playing It Ghoul: ‘Zombie Graph’ Charts How AI Brings Virtual Worlds to Life

by Allison Toh

Few parts of popular culture show as much life right now as zombies, what with AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and the White Walkers stalking HBO’s “Game of Thrones” headlining a raft of shows featuring reanimated corpses.

Now, an Irish startup has found a way to harness AI to create vast armies of the undead — or whatever else is needed — to bring virtual worlds to life.

“We solved the problem that art costs too much … (or) it takes too long for the entertainment and design industries, and we do it through better technology,” Artomatix CTO and co-founder Eric Risser said in a conversation with AI Podcast host Noah Kravitz. “So we’ve built an AI that can mimic human-like artistic creativity for very low-level, tedious kinds of artistic creativity.”

The Zombie Graph

To explain how this works, Risser has the “Zombie Graph.”

It hinges on the idea that when you encounter your first zombie, you process all that new information in that image. But with your second and third zombie encounters, there are more redundant details and fewer new features you have to parse.

“As you get more data, you become more certain as to what this thing is or less certain,” explained Risser. “Zombie graph is basically just us plotting unique information over total information as we add in new elements of a set.”

Risser, who has a Ph.D. from Trinity College Dublin, was inspired to start Artomatix — which is based in an old Guinness brewery — by his lifelong love for art and experience working in graphics and rendering.

“We saw a hole in the market where those tools were for very talented and trained, technically savvy artists,” Risser said. “And there aren’t really tools that are really that appropriate for people kind of getting into art.”

At the Intersection of Art and AI

As technology continues to advance, Risser is optimistic about what a deep learning-art partnership could mean for industries even outside of the creative space.

“I’d like to see it five years from now, VR and AR really being not just a new screen for a videogame, or slightly more immersive video game, I’d really like to see it become personalized spaces that we create,” said Risser. “I’d really like to see everyone become an artist, and everyone be able to put that into more of whatever it is they do … And I think AI is the thing that’s going to do that.”

Malong Technologies Takes AI to Unlimited Heights

If you missed last week’s episode of our AI Podcast, give it a listen. Matt Scott, co-founder and CTO of Chinese startup Malong Technologies, joined us to share how Malong plans to make data collection for deep learning “human-free.”

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