Minecraft paves the way for advanced AI. Microsoft has embarked on an ambitious project to develop advanced artificial intelligence using Minecraft. The technology giant is currently struggling to make the computers learn to climb mountains, but hopes to have developed advanced AI ‘within decades’.
There is a point to this seemingly frivolous venture as Microsoft hopes that Minecraft can become a cut-price option for start-ups looking to test simple AI systems.
Minecraft is a simple game that has exploded in popularity and the simple concept of block construction has spawned a vast amount of secondary uses beyond the game and it is now being used in schools as an aid to education. Microsoft bought the rights to the game for $2.5 billion in 2015 and this might be one of the first plans for major expansion.
Project AIX is a new initiative where the engineers are training AI to climb mountains in virtual reality. It isn’t going well, so far, as the computer controlled character is constantly falling into rivers and even lava.
The agent begins each ‘quest’ with no basic knowledge of the environment or even the task at hand. The character actually has to learn the surroundings and what is significant. It even has to register whether it is night or day. Apparently this was simply impossible with other gaming engines, but Minecraft has brought a level of complexity that means it is no longer necessary to produce physical robots to test.
Today’s AI is still relatively limited and relies on either simple mathematical modelling or actual physical tests, whereas Minecraft offers opportunities to avoid building the machinery and can offer virtual world testing with real world results. The maths behind it is quite intense, and is beyond the average IT support team in London, but the theory goes that Minecraft could help slash development costs for advanced systems in the not too distant future.Minecraft paves the way for advanced AI
We’ll have to watch this one with interest to see how it actually pans out and to see if a children’s game can have a profound effect on the rest of the world as we know it.