This month we spoke with Andrew Cardno about artificial intelligence (AI) and its counterpart, artificial general intelligence (AGI), designed to be able to solve any problem a human can. Cardno is an established thought leader in visual analytics, with over 21 years of experience in the field. He has led private Ph.D./Masters research teams in visualization/development for over 15 years, winning two Smithsonian Laureates and more than 20 international and innovation awards. Here is what he had to say…
How do you see AI intersecting with other emerging technologies like virtual reality and blockchain? Do you see synergies there that may eventially trickle down into gaming, potentially?
AI, which is what I studied formally in college, is what I’ve been practicing for 20 years. For the latest breakthroughs of the last eight or nine months in the space, I use the term artificial general intelligence. There’s a lot of debate about whether OpenAI is general intelligence. I think it is. Academics can continue to argue about it, but I think it has passed the ‘Turing test.’ Right now, we are in the middle of the biggest tech revolution that has ever happened.
Artificial general intelligence (AGI) is going to work with blockchain and VR, certainly. It’s going to work everywhere. Every piece of tech, every interface, everything we are doing – all of humankind is going to get touched by this. The importance of recent developments in AI are on par with the discovery of penicillin; the day we landed on the moon; the invention of the wheel; and the discovery of fire. Those events happened, and then forevermore, we were changed. My main takeaway for the Indian gaming world is we should be thankful for this invention. No one can forecast the future, but from my view, we are very well-positioned to do very well out of this as an industry.
What are some of the challenges and opportunities for integrating AI into the Indian gaming industry?
We are very lucky to be in the Indian gaming entertainment space. What I mean by that is, it’s an industry that will benefit enormously from this technology. We as an industry suffer from a labor shortage, training challenges, and are constantly trying to improve our brands. A tribally-owned resort is really a collection of small businesses built around gaming. It’s enormously complex to manage all those small businesses. Through AGI we have this amazing opportunity to implement a co-pilot/automation agent that can help run the collection of businesses that comprise a resort in a much better way. It will tremendously benefit the industry.
How do you see AI being used in gaming to analyze player behavior, preferences and/or gambling patterns?
ChatGPT and OpenAI didn’t exist a year ago. All the capabilities we are talking about with generative AI is all new. Now, traditional AI, which is my background, has been able to do the tasks your question asks about for years and years. Can it predict? Yes. Can it forecast customers? Yes. Can it do profitability analysis and gaming optimization? It does all those things. What’s changed though, is now we have this capability for AI to work with us and understand our questions in a human way through AGI. A year ago, if you wanted to do a forecast model or something very specific, you really needed to be an expert in that area. Now, AGI changes that. It allows a human to interact in a very natural way. By making the communication more natural, it opens computational platforms to people who couldn’t do them in the past. Consider the simple example of utilizing Excel. There are Excel gurus out there who can make Excel sing and dance and do all sorts of crazy things. Regular users ask these kinds of experts, “How do you do this? How do you do that? Oh, my spreadsheet isn’t working. Can you fix it for me?” With AGI, it doesn’t work like that anymore. Consumers can get help from an AI agent that really understands what is being requested in human terms. It’s like a humanization of computer interfaces. It brings a completely natural form to computing, and what is more natural than conversation? The closest we had in the past was Google search, which we all love it, right? Now you can chat with an agent instead of searching, and it’s much more natural. AI brings a very natural, human communication to the things that we try to do all day.
At QCI, we’ve already built an interface where users can start having those conversations with complex data analytics. I’ve shown it to a few people, and they love it. It makes something that in the past, was only available to people like me, with little propellors on their heads, the nerds, right? Now everyone can do analytics – it democratizes it. There are so many people in the world who used to be data disadvantaged. And now they are not. Now they can interact with an AGI agent, “a co-pilot,” who’s effective in doing that job, allowing regular users to do computations that in the past, they couldn’t. Now, anyone can say, “Hey, I need a predictive model,” and AI will help you. It removes this enormous bottleneck in analytics and puts it into the hands of anyone who is data curious, anyone who wants business answers.
How do you think AI will impact game development, and what benefits will it bring to the overall gaming ecosystem? Would you say primarily more content faster?
I’m not a game designer, but I’ve worked with game designers and there are tremendous barriers to entry. The cost of production for a game is significant. It seems to be hard for new players to break in with new ideas. Through artificial intelligence, those barriers are going to become much lower. For example, AI could do the artwork on a game; the animation and the design of pay tables and payouts. A much smaller group could now make innovative new products. And the larger groups, if they adopt this technology, will be able tohave more depth in their products, more options and more configurability.
Are there any ethical considerations and potential biases associated with implementing AI algorithms that you see or are aware of?
As a technologist, broadly speaking, there are going to be industries that are impacted in very different ways than Indian gaming. Within this industry, it is humans that are working with and controlling and using these technologies. Indian gaming is full of incredibly ethical and careful people. Just about everyone who works in this industry goes through licensing. We are all aware of the consequences of a lack of ethical behavior, possibly more than any other industry in the world. Simply moving from one tribal nation to another triggers a new licensing process and background checks. This is an industry that is, by its nature and history, very ethical. It’s basically a requirement to working in Indian gaming.
What measures can be taken, in your opinion, to ensure the security and integrity using AI within the Indian gaming industry?
We are such a careful industry when it comes to taking risks. We are well placed to take on this kind of technology. In our industry, more than any other industry, we have test labs, we have processes, we have evaluation and we have regulations. Will we make mistakes? Maybe, but we’ll learn from them like with any new technology.
It seems like someday, whether it’s today or in the future, AI could assist the regulators and even the labs that are approving these games, potentially.
Absolutely. AI is going to assist in these areas – it’s going to assist everywhere. But we as an industry, will also test, validate and monitor. I will say, without exception, tribal nations are very careful about who they do business with and how they engage with new technology. This is a careful industry.
How can AI be employed to improve data analytics and decision-making processes?
It’s going to do two really big things. One is communication – allowing people to engage with an agent that can understand the data and communicate with people in a meaningful way. ‘Why should I be doing this? Why are my customers going down? Why have they gone up? Have you looked at it this way, and that way?’ And the second is opening a whole new class of analytic problems. Some of the hardest problems in the industry are going to be solved using very big, very complex AI models.
From a practical standpoint, for casino and marketing executives on the ground, how do you see AI improving their workflow and creating a better experience for their players and customers?
The next stage of QCI we call Mozart. Mozart can conduct symphonies of texts and relevant personalized communications with customers. It will especially help casinos communicate with their customers who fall below the level of traditional player development. It will bring a personal touch and one-on-one branding experience to every customer in your business. Everyone can now have this beautiful, polite, endlessly helpful interaction with your business. Customers can book shows, ask about what’s fun, and talk about their last visit. They can have a meaningful discussion with this agent that is just there to help them. It’s a huge change in how we can do business. And we are already personifying that.