UNO-developed AI ready for testing

Brandon Melerine, Contributor

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Artificial intelligence, or AI, is a branch of computer science that is growing rapidly in our technologically driven world. The University of New Orleans offers an introductory course to AI, taught by assistant professor Stephen Ware.

Ware said he sees AI as an ever-growing field of cognitive research inside and outside of academia.

“AI, in general, is a machine that makes decisions in a way that humans would make them; or rather, it’s a machine that makes decisions intelligently because sometimes the most intelligent thing is not necessarily the most human,” said Ware.

While working at UNO, Ware has focused his attention on computer storytelling, “an interactive training simulation for police officers” that allows them to simulate difficult experiences. It is being used to help train and refine the difficult decisions police make daily.

“We’re building an interactive narrative-training simulation using virtual-reality technology,” said Ware. “One of the hardest things that police have to do is make decisions about use of force, dealing with a potentially dangerous suspect who’s not cooperating.”

Currently, the project is early in development; Ware said he hopes to partner with a local police force for testing. “We have built an early prototype of that teaches one very specific lesson in a very specific way. Now that the prototype is finally ready, we’re going to have NOPD come in to take a look at it.”


The system will place a police officer in a situation faced with another character, controlled by AI.

“The intelligence system does not adapt; instead, it works by being programmed with knowledge of each different situation,” Ware explained.

“There are thousands of possible ways this story could unfold, depending on what decision the human makes. We want to make sure that no matter what they do, the other characters behave in a realistic and believable way.”

The system’s data is coded in by computer scientists to accumulate the knowledge necessary to allow for the computer to make human-like decisions. “The hope is that we can encode that knowledge into the system, and it can make those decisions automatically the same way a human would make them.”

In 2014, Ware was the recipient of a National Science Foundation grant for $138,000 to help study artificial intelligence and develop new AI systems.


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UNO-developed AI ready for testing