Why a16z Built a Town for AI People

Why a16z Built a Town for AI People

Update: 2023-09-07


In this episode, Nathan sits down with three members of the a16z x Convex AI Town project: Yoko Li (Partner, a16z), Martin Casado (GP, a16z), and James Cowling (CTO, Convex). AI Town is a virtual town where AI agents live, interact, and socialize. They discuss how AI Town originated from Yoko’s companion app project, unpredictability as a feature in LLMs and interacting with models like they are lifeforms, and why they chose Javascript and Convex to build AI Town. If you're looking for an ERP platform, check out our sponsor, NetSuite: http://netsuite.com/cognitive

We're hiring across the board at Turpentine and for Erik's personal team on other projects he's incubating. He's hiring a Chief of Staff, EA, Head of Special Projects, Investment Associate, and more. For a list of JDs, check out: eriktorenberg.com.


To borrow from a meme… we're in the podcast arena trying stuff. Some will work. Some won't. But we're always learning.


Fill out the above form to let us know how we can continue delivering great content to you or sending the feedback on your mind to tcr@turpentine.co. 


(00:00:00 ) - Episode Preview: Intro to AI Town and the idea of AI as companions

(00:05:29 ) - Overview of AI Town and the simulation framework based on the Stanford Generative Agents paper

(00:08:24 ) - Yoko explains how the idea for AI Town originated from the companion app project

(00:12:31 ) - The simplicity and elegance of the AI Town codebase

(00:15:47 ) - Sponsors: Netsuite | Omneky

(00:18:25 ) - How Convex built a server-side game engine for AI Town 

(00:23:39 )- James emphasizes the power of functional programming paradigms like Convex for building AI apps

(00:25:02 ) - Using simple JavaScript so anyone could understand and extend AI Town

(00:30:23 ) - How AI coding assistants were used in building AI Town 

(00:31:22 ) - No open source code for the Stanford paper when they started

(00:33:25 ) - The interplay between programmer and AI model

(00:38:01 )- Martin draws a distinction between using formal languages vs. natural language

(00:43:21 ) The balance between formal language and unpredictable behaviours in LLMs

(00:48:27 ) Are we living in a simulation?

(00:50:38 ) Advice for other developers in AI

(00:54:29 ) AI Town is a community project to be extended on

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Music Credit: GoogleLM

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Why a16z Built a Town for AI People

Why a16z Built a Town for AI People

Erik Torenberg, Nathan Labenz