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> We train it with a simple virtual environment

I go as far as saying that there is no intelligence without embodiment. AI's, humans and animals need the environment because intelligence is only partly in the brain, a lot of it is in the environment. An agent that forms a new concept needs to be able to test it in "real life" (in the sim). Unless the agent can test, it can't distinguish between correlation and causation. Without causal reasoning, AI's won't get that smart. The scientific method and the way kids learn through play are just as heavily based on the environment.

So I think the next level in AI will be based on improvements on simulators - both physical sims and abstract (for reasoning, dialogue, complex planning, etc). Lately, AI has a lot of synergy with gaming which is a form of simulation as well. Not only that AIs use games as a sandbox, but the hardware used to run games on is also the hardware used to run deep learning (GPUs). Another important usage for simulation will be self driving cars - where a model of the world needs to be simulated in the car to do path planning.

So my conclusion is that we are on a "perfect storm" path towards advanced simulation. From games to SDCs, and from robots to chatbots, they all need to simulate the environment and future effects of their actions. We're headed towards a kind of Matrix before reaching AGI.

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