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Google, Improbable Want to Recreate the Whole World in VR! Is It Possible?

Dec 15, 2016 10:14 AM EST

Google and small British startup Improbable are out to do the "impossible" -- make the entire world a virtual reality.

Improbable was founded by two Cambridge graduates and are backed by $20 million in funding from venture capitalists at Andreessen Horowitz. The company offers a new way to build virtual worlds outside video games, as well as vast digital simulations of cities, economies, and biological system.

Their system goes under the premise that these VR worlds can run in a holistic way across an infinite network of computers so they can expand to unprecedented sizes.

So far, the startup has shared its technology with just a handful of coders and companies. And just recently, it has joined forces with Google to offer its creation, called SpatialOS, to anyone who wants to use it.

According to Wired, the system is like a cloud computing device for building VR worlds on a range of devices such as desktops and VR systems. The service runs on Google Cloud Platform, the giant's growing cloud computing engine.

It is still in the beta stage, meaning coders can prototype and test their virtual worlds for now. However, according to Wired, in the first quarter of next year, the beta will allow coders on Google's cloud to improve these VR worlds to be released worldwide.

According to Wired, this partnership will allow Google to promote its cloud services as it challenges rivals like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. Improbable will hopefully help Google push toward this market.

On the other hand, developers that build more of these virtual worlds will provide AI researchers with better ways of training the next generation of AI systems. 

Meanwhile, if AI agents are set loose in virtual simulations of the real world, look at Universe. This is the AI training ground just revealed by OpenAI. This is sponsored by Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Y Combinator president Sam Altman, which allows researchers to train AI agents to use any web application the way we do computers.

In theory, this can train agents to navigate any virtual world built with Improbable. Not only that, game designers Dean Hall and Henrique Olifiers say Improbable will allow MMOs to achieve very complex gameplay efforts.

In the end, such simulations could also provide training for autonomous cars and other automated systems. 

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