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17 October 2022

AI researcher and game designer, Dr Michael Cook, joins the Department of Informatics

AI researcher and game designer, Dr Michael Cook, joins the Department of Informatics.

Michael Cook

Dr Michael Cook joined King’s as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Informatics. His work focuses on two research fields: Automated game design, where AI is used to think about how people design games, and Computational creativity, building AI systems that act creatively, whilst thinking about the philosophy behind human creativity.

Michael has always been fascinated by games, with the desire to understand how they are made, how people express themselves through design, and why they are so important to so many people. He works a lot with the games industry, and game designers of all types, from big-budget blockbuster companies, all the way down to people making games as a hobby in their spare time.

He explains:

“Even though games are such a crucial part of modern culture and life, they're very, very hard to make. It's a lot harder to make a video game than it is to write a story, doodle some art, or hum a new song. I hope that we can use AI to make creative expression more accessible, and to build AI systems that can support and nurture anyone who wants to try making something like a videogame.”

A few months ago, Michael released Puck, an AI game designer that anyone can download and run on their own computer. It uses a combination of different AI techniques to invent, test and refine game designs, and you can watch it work while it does it. Over the next few years, Michael hopes to use Puck for a lot of new research into creative AI techniques, build AI systems that can collaborate with humans, teach us things, and learn from us.

Puck game
Puck game

He is keen to simplify AI and explore new ways of building systems. He says:

So many AI headlines these days are about big, expensive, and very complex AI systems, and that can make AI seem scary and confusing. But AI can be simple, it can be accessible, and something that you have control over. So I'm doing my research with that in mind, to try and make systems that explain themselves and are easy to understand. That's also very important to computational creativity research, too!

Michael Cook

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Michael Cook

Senior Lecturer in Computer Science