I am a Ph.D. student at North Carolina State University, where I am working with Dr. Michael Young and the Liquid Narrative Research Group on computational models of conflict in automatically generated narratives.
My main area of interest is Narrative Intelligence, a branch of Artificial Intelligence that deals with modeling, understanding, and generating stories.
I work mainly with automated planning systems, which were originally designed for tasks like robot movement, but are now being repurposed to model stories. My thesis research extends Partial-Order Causal Link (or POCL) plans to represent conflict and the important phenomena associated with it (who is involved, why they are involved, what is at stake, etc.). I am also incorporating recent research in fast state-space planning to substantially speed up narrative planners.
In essence, I'm teaching robots to write better stories faster. If you took an off-the-shelf planner and asked it to write Hamlet, the story it generated would be short, efficient, and uninteresting. My work, and more generally the work of the Liquid Narrative Group, is to put the interesting back into the automated writing process.
Our work is most often used for the intelligent control of virtual environments. Imagine a story-intensive video game like Mass Effect which, instead of offering you a short list of pre-scripted choices with pre-scripted outcomes, can adapt its story to your every action because it leverages an AI system with the encoded knowledge of a human storyteller. Imagine a military training simulation or an intelligent tutoring system that can diagnose which tasks each individual participant is struggling with and provide constructive feedback.
While the applications of narrative intelligence are extrememly exciting, what truly drives me is a desire to understand human thought. Evaluating our work with empirical human subjects experiments not only lends credence to the theories we implement, but it reveals how narrative effects the human mind and how people use narrative to communicate.
I have many other interests, some related to my research and some not. I study classical (non-narrative) AI planning systems. While at Loyola University New Orleans I developed in interest in literary theory and wrote a thesis on the Wizard Archetype. I'm also interested in Philoosphy of Mind, especially phenomenal consciousness and the problem of "what it is like" to be conscious.
My excitement for this research drives me to get other people excited about it and about Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence in general. While at NCSU I have been the instructor for Advanced Java Programming and Data Structures. I've been a teaching assistant for Software Engineering and Graph Theory, and I have guest lectured for Game Design and Advanced Computer Game Projects.
When teaching I mix traditional lecture with short hands-on programming exercises. I often try to incorporate video game development into class projects (even those not for a game design class), because it motivates students to work harder and do better on projects. I give students explicit information about how I grade before assigning a project, often providing automated black box tests with which they can calculate their own grades before submitting an assignment. My tests are often essay-based and require students to explain concepts in their own words using examples not given in class.
In my spare time I brew beer, sing bass, and program video games. I enjoy tabletop roleplaying games as well as long form and short form improv acting games. I go back to visit New Orleans as often as I can, and sometimes make silly things like The Manly Name Generator (which is apparently now #1 on Google for that search criteria).