After conquering the challenging game of Go earlier this year, Google's DeepMind division is setting its sights on beating StarCraft II.
DeepMind, which was purchased by Google (now Alphabet) in 2014, is taking on StarCraft as it provides a comparison to the "messiness of the real-world".
In a blog post, Oriol Vinyals, a research scientist at DeepMind said: "DeepMind is on a scientific mission to push the boundaries of AI, developing programs that can learn to solve any complex problem without needing to be told how". But the company's announcement shows it's looking seriously at Starcraft as a candidate for a breakthrough in machine intelligence.
In its quest to advance artificial intelligence research, Google's DeepMind has created systems capable of mastering a range of Atari computer games, and besting humans at the ancient Chinese board game Go.
We've worked closely with the StarCraft II team to develop an API that supports something similar to previous bots written with a "scripted" interface, allowing programmatic control of individual units and access to the full game state (with some new options as well). Players' actions are governed by the in-game economy, and minerals and gas must be gathered in order to produce new buildings and units. Finally, one of the most important features of these games for AI is the fact that they are turn-based, so the AI has time to analyze the situation and choose an optimal move without worrying about interference from the other player.
GoogleDeepMind CEO and cofounder Demis Hassabis with Go champion Lee Se Dol and Google cofounder Sergey Brin
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StarCraft II already has an AI system, of course, but the difference is that it doesn't behave like a human in the way Google's DeepMind is supposed to. The game involves interconnected layers of decisions, as players use resources to build infrastructure and assets before engaging in direct combat. In the mid-1990s, International Business Machines Corp.'s supercomputer Deep Blue defeated world chess champion Garry Kasparov on several occasions.
The AI has a long ways to go before it's on a level of competing at a tournament, but right now Vinyals and the crew working on DeepMind have been setting up the parameters and giving the AI the necessary tools to play the game effectively.
In the twenty years since Starcraft debuted, the game has acquired a massive and devoted following.
Google's DeepMind will try to build an AI that can beat "StarCraft II", the artificial intelligence company announced on Friday. Pitting two players against one another in real-time, Starcraft was a pioneer in professional video game competitions and remains an important game in the world of e-sports, although its prominence has since been eclipsed by other games.