AI bots team up to wrangle digital swine in Minecraft

#artificialintelligence

Wrangling a pig--even a virtual one--is much easier if you get a friend to help. This much seems clear from a contest organized by Microsoft researchers to test how artificially intelligent agents could cooperate to solve tricky problems. How best to cooperate with your pig-wrangling pal is another question. The competition addresses an area of artificial intelligence that has had relatively little attention so far. AI researchers often develop software capable of performing a specific human task, such as playing chess or Go, and then measure it according to its ability to defeat a human player.


In the Quest for General Intelligence, AIs Are Chasing Chickens in Minecraft

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

If artificial intelligence (AI) agents are to become real players in society, using their machine abilities to complement our human strengths, they must first become players in the video game of Minecraft. And to prove themselves in Minecraft, they must work together to capture animals in a maze, build towers of blocks, and hunt for treasure while fighting off skeletons. That, anyway, is the premise of a competition organized by Microsoft, Queen Mary University of London, and crowdAI (a platform for data-science challenges). Next month, the organizers will announce the winner--the team that created an AI that could best observe its Minecraft environment, determine which of three missions it had to accomplish, and then collaborate with another AI agent to carry out that mission. By emphasizing adaptability and cooperation, the organizers aimed to encourage research on AI agents that could one day interact with humans to accomplish tasks in the real world.


Minecraft Is a Testing Ground for Human-AI Collaboration

MIT Technology Review

The blockish and slightly dorky computer game Minecraft may turn out to be a great place for humans and AI to learn how to work together. An experimental new version of the game, released by Microsoft researchers this month, can be used to train an AI to perform all sorts of tasks, from crossing bridges to building complex objects. The new platform, called Project Malmo, makes it possible for a learning algorithm to control a Minecraft character that's normally operated by a human player. But it also provides ways for human players and AI agents to work together, and a chat window through which a person can talk with a nascent AI. "In the long run I want to work toward AI that can be taught by any user to help them achieve their goals," says Katja Hoffman, a researcher at Microsoft Cambridge in the U.K. who leads the project. Hoffman, who gave a demo of the software to AI researchers at an academic conference in New York last week, says that human-AI collaboration is a key goal for the project: "We've built in all the capabilities that a researcher would need in order to work toward collaborative AI." Malmo is geared toward testing reinforcement-learning algorithms, a way of training a computer to perform a task by providing simulated rewards.


Microsoft is using Minecraft to explore new ways for people to collaborate with AI Robotics/machine learning

#artificialintelligence

The blockish and slightly dorky computer game Minecraft may turn out to be a great place for humans and AI to learn how to work together. An experimental new version of the game, released by Microsoft researchers this month, can be used to train an AI to perform all sorts of tasks, from crossing bridges to building complex objects. The new platform, called Project Malmo, makes it possible for a learning algorithm to control a Minecraft character that's normally operated by a human player. But it also provides ways for human players and AI agents to work together, and a chat window through which a person can talk with a nascent AI. "In the long run I want to work toward AI that can be taught by any user to help them achieve their goals," says Katja Hofmann, a researcher at Microsoft Cambridge in the U.K. who leads the project. Hofmann, who gave a demo of the software to AI researchers at an academic conference in New York last week, says that human-AI collaboration is a key goal for the project: "We've built in all the capabilities that a researcher would need in order to work toward collaborative AI." Malmo is geared toward testing reinforcement-learning algorithms, a way of training a computer to perform a task by providing simulated rewards.


Project Malmo: Using Minecraft to build more intelligent technology - Next at Microsoft

#artificialintelligence

Editor's note, April 1, 2016: This project was formerly known as Project AIX and has now been renamed Project Malmo. In the airy, loft-like Microsoft Research lab in New York City, five computer scientists are spending their days trying to get a Minecraft character to climb a hill. That may seem like a pretty simple job for some of the brightest minds in the field, until you consider this: The team is trying to train an artificial intelligence agent to learn how to do things like climb to the highest point in the virtual world, using the same types of resources a human has when she learns a new task. That means that the agent starts out knowing nothing at all about its environment or even what it is supposed to accomplish. 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.