John Carmack has decided that virtual reality isn’t enough of a challenge, so he’s moving on to artificial intelligence.
You likely remember Carmack as the guy who co-created the original Doom at id Software. He also worked on Quake, Doom 3, and worked on the game engine that would eventually power Half-Life and Call of Duty. Then he got bored of video games and decided to get into the VR business, joining Oculus VR in 2013 as their Chief Technical Officer (CTO).
But it looks like he’s had enough of VR and he’s now moving on to something even greater: AI development.
In an update posted to Carmack’s Facebook page, he announced that he moved into a “consulting CTO” position at Oculus where he’ll “still have a voice in the development work, but it will only be consuming a modest slice of my time.”
The rest of his time will instead be devoted to a problem that he’s never really dealt with before. Carmack admits that even as he pursued personal projects such as his brief stint as an aerospace engineer, he’d always had a vague sense of a path that would lead to an eventual solution. With artificial intelligence, however, Carmack has almost no idea.
But why AI? As Carmack tells it, “I have sometimes wondered how I would fare with a problem where the solution really isn’t in sight. I decided that I should give it a try before I get too old."
A lot of companies and a lot of institutions are working on artificial intelligence, which has been billed as both the potential solution to all the world’s problems and the potential cause of the apocalypse. Most movies tend to side with the latter argument, but Carmack seems to be an optimist.
And while most companies/universities have large research labs devoted to the problem of AI, Carmack will tackle the problem "'Victorian Gentleman Scientist'-style, pursuing my inquiries from home, and drafting my son into the work."
He joked that he initially wanted to work on cheap nuclear reactors, but that he couldn’t do it from his home.