An artificial intelligence developed by British firm DeepMind has achieved'Grandmaster' status in the real-time, sci-fi strategy game'StarCraft II'. StarCraft II is one of the world's most lucrative and popular esports, in which players control different alien races to build up forces and defeat their opponents. With each battle coming with thousands of possible moves at any given moment, the video game presents a challenge that surpasses traditional tests like chess or Go. The AI -- dubbed'AlphaStar' -- proved its mettle in a series of online battles against human opponents, coming out above 99.8 per cent of players in the rankings. This makes AlphaStar the first ever AI to reach the top tier of human performance in a professionally-played esport, without needing simplifying the game first.
DeepMind says this latest iteration of AlphaStar -- AlphaStar Final -- can play a full StarCraft 2 match under "professionally approved" conditions, importantly with limits on the frequency of its actions and by viewing the world through a game camera. It plays on the official StarCraft 2 Battle.net "StarCraft has been a grand challenge for AI researchers for over 15 years, so it's hugely exciting to see this work recognized in Nature," said DeepMind cofounder and CEO Demis Hassabis. "These impressive results mark an important step forward in our mission to create intelligent systems that will accelerate scientific discovery." DeepMind's forays into competitive StarCraft play can be traced back to 2017, when the company worked with Blizzard to release an open source tool set containing anonymized match replays.
DeepMind today announced a new milestone for its artificial intelligence agents trained to play the Blizzard Entertainment game StarCraft II. The Google-owned AI lab's more sophisticated software, still called AlphaStar, is now grandmaster level in the real-time strategy game, capable of besting 99.8 percent of all human players in competition. The findings are to be published in a research paper in the scientific journal Nature. Not only that, but DeepMind says it also evened the playing field when testing the new and improved AlphaStar against human opponents who opted into online competitions this past summer. For one, it trained AlphaStar to use all three of the game's playable races, adding to the complexity of the game at the upper echelons of pro play.
Players of the science-fiction video game StarCraft II faced an unusual opponent this summer. An artificial intelligence (AI) known as AlphaStar -- which was built by Google's AI firm DeepMind -- achieved a grandmaster rating after it was unleashed on the game's European servers, placing within the top 0.15% of the region's 90,000 players. The result, published on 30 October in Nature1, shows that an AI can compete at the highest levels of StarCraft II, a massively popular online strategy game in which players compete in real time as one of three factions -- the human Terran forces or the aliens Protoss and Zerg -- battling against each other in a futuristic warzone. DeepMind, which previously built world-leading AIs that play chess and Go, targeted StarCraft II as its next benchmark in the quest for a general AI -- a machine capable of learning or understanding any task that humans can -- because of the game's strategic complexity and rapid pace. "I did not expect AI to essentially be superhuman in this domain so quickly, maybe not for another couple of years," says Jon Dodge, an AI researcher at Oregon State University in Corvallis.
DeepMind's artificial intelligence platforms have become legendary for their ability to master complex games like chess, shogi and Go, crushing our puny human brains with advanced machine learning techniques. Earlier this year a new version of the AI built for real-time strategy game StarCraft II, dubbed AlphaStar, was unveiled and carried on DeepMind's tradition of putting humans to shame, trampling some of the top human StarCraft II players in the world. On Wednesday, the DeepMind team published a new study of AlphaStar in the journal Nature, detailing just how far AlphaStar has come. And folks, it's bad news for any up-and-coming StarCraft II stars: The AI is now classed as a Grandmaster, which means it can beat 99.8% of all human players. Why would researchers build an AI for a niche video game title and what can it teach us about artificial intelligence and machine learning?