OpenAI becomes expert Minecraft gamer after months of training

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Modern artificial intelligences have a tricky history with video games. Scientists researching practical uses for advanced AI have used the tech to create realistic video game bots in games like Overcooked. Now, popular AI platform OpenAI has its first virtual Minecraft player.

How did OpenAI learn Minecraft?

Via Gizmodo, engineers at OpenAI worked to train AI platform to play the popular survival-crafting game, Minecraft. Explained in a detailed blog post, the high-end artificial intelligence program has finally cracked what was once seen as an impossible boundary.

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Initially, the AI platform struggled to play simple Atari games, titles with simplistic goals. However, those boundaries were soon crossed. Despite crossing this limit, it still struggled to play more advanced games.

Trained using videos of people playing the hugely influential game and a small contributed dataset, the AI was able to learn how to playMinecraft. Not only was the AI able to perform basic hunting and gathering activities, but it was also able to manage its own inventory, swim and more.

To put into perspective how impressive the group’s work is, over 660 scientists tried and failed to create a Minecraft-playing AI three years ago. In that challenge, the goal was to get an AI to successfully mine a diamond. In comparison, the OpenAI version can craft diamond tools.

“We are the first to report computer agents that can craft diamond tools, which can take proficient humans upwards of 20 minutes (24,000 environment actions) of gameplay to accomplish,” the OpenAI paper says.

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How is this possible?

In order to make the Minecraft AI possible, OpenAI allowed the software to engage in “video pre-training” before the program was able to access the vast amount of online Minecraft videos. This pre-training allowed the software to associate actions with specific button presses and sequences of actions.

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With the tool aware of how to interface with Minecraft’s systems, lengthy video training turned it into an expert on and game. Instead of just being able to mine, it’s able to actually play the fully 3D game.

What will this be used for?

Video game AI is currently bad, at least in the general sense. While some games have convincing AI bots, they still fail in some areas. Despite being hard-coded for specific games, they aren’t great at using all of those games’ systems.

For example, the bots in Halo Infinite multiplayer are decent foes, but they can’t complete some objectives by themselves. Furthermore, they aren’t able to get in and drive vehicles.

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With AI tools like the Minecraft OpenAI program, video game bots — friendly or otherwise — could become more useful and complex. They could be more realistic, like you’re actually playing with another human being.