Tuesday 25 July 2017

Minecraft to act as testground for AI


Mark O'Beirne

Minecraft is to be used by researchers as a cost-effective and open-ended way to test out artificial intelligence and robotics.

Recently, an AI proved that it can play Go better than humans, and now artificial intelligence is coming for our videogames.

Project AIX is being used by scientists to “train” an AI how to do things in Minecraft’s environment. It starts knowing nothing about the environment or what it’s supposed to do. Researchers are attempting to create an AI that can learn to navigate the virtual world and climb to the highest point using the same reasoning that a human player might.

Microsoft said, "It needs to understand its surroundings and figure out what's important -- going uphill -- and what isn't, such as whether it's light or dark. [...] It needs to understand -- via incremental rewards -- when it has achieved all or part of its goal."

It’s said that Minecraft is more "sophisticated" than existing AI research simulations and cheaper to use than building a robot. Lead researcher, Katja Hoffman, added that Minecraft’s open-ended nature makes it the perfect testbed for AI.

"Minecraft is the perfect platform for this kind of research because it's this very open world. You can do survival mode, you can do 'build battles' with your friends, you can do courses, you can implement our own games,” she explained. “This is really exciting for artificial intelligence because it allows us to create games that stretch beyond current abilities."

Researchers will be able to access the AIX platform from July, and it’s hoped that the Minecraft community at large will also be able to interact with the AI in the future.

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