Can i buy the top car in this pic? Damn sexy
Gaming technology moves at a breathtaking pace, even if console generations make it feel static for years at a time - advancements are always happening out of sight.
Artificial intelligence is a buzzword at the moment, but in gaming it generally means something simpler than in the wider world - opponents and allies. AI is shorthand for the bots you play against or alongside, whether those are singleplayer enemies or multiplayer targets.
Players can finally race against Sony's GT Sophy AI, a bot that it's spent years honing with researchers. Unveiled a year ago, it's been facing trials since then and is now out for all of us to match up against.
It's an amazing experience doing so - carefully crafted to play with your expectations. A series of races are on offer, each with multiple difficulty levels, starting you in an overpowered car compared to the AI racers before eventually offering a totally level playing field.
Once you get up to that final level, GT Sophy's sophistication is manifest, in the form of a racer that is unpredictable and opportunistic like no AI we've ever raced.
This isn't just a simple system like Forza's Drivatar options, making the bot more or less aggressive - it's a racer that reacts in real-time and spots opportunities to pull off moves that we didn't even see.
It drives like a player would, if that player were the most reliable and mistake-free driver on the circuit, and it's amazing how revolutionary that can feel.
The question it casts, though, is how it'll impact the scene - is this the future of practice racing, against a perfect machine that can push you to new heights? Or is it the death of competitive Gran Turismo, as people's hopes are snuffed out by a Terminator-like chaser?
The good news is that the AI is in Sony and Polyphony Digital's own hands - unlike in other games, where third-party bots can infiltrate from the outside to crush competitive integrity. Rocket League recently had its own inquest into how a bot called Nexto was being used in ranked play, for one, an almost existential threat to a game's ecosystem.
Meanwhile, ChatGPT and other AI implementations are threatening the worlds of publishing and programming with AI-created scripts that are hard to pick out from authored content, making GT Sophy's release feel all the more timely.
For now, all we can recommend is that any racing fans seek out the Race Together event to try it for themselves. Getting destroyed by an AI is nothing new, but playing one that's indistinguishable from an ace human driver leaves its own distinct glow of admiration.