Researchers Are Teaching AI to Play Minecraft

Artificial Intelligence nonprofit OpenAI, recently designed the world’s most advanced Minecraft-playing bot by the analysis of over 70,000 hours of human gameplay through a novel training method. Although restricted to building pixelated buildings and tools, the researchers allege that the achievements of this bot may help in the creation of breakthrough technologies like virtually unlimited renewable energy resources and true self-driving.

To build this bot which can create ‘diamond tools’, in-game items which generally takes humans about 24,000 actions and 20 minutes to craft, the researchers made use of the imitation learning technique. It requires an AI to watch and improve itself upon thousands of human input examples to achieve its expected output. Another popular AI design method, reinforcement learning, emphasizes on unfocused trial-and-error approach.

A previous challenge with imitation learning is that it usually requires researchers to hand-label ‘each step’, i.e. ‘doing this action makes this happen, doing that action makes that happen, and so on.’ OpenAI avoided this time-wasting process by the construction of a separate neural network which handles the labeling procedure in ‘Video Pre-Training’ (VPT). Gig workers were first hired to play Minecraft. 2,000 hours were recorded of their keyboard strokes, video gameplay, and mouse clicks to use for the training of a subsequent AI bot.

With the addition of VPT, the novel AI program can construct items in Minecraft which previous bots could not do using only reinforcement learning, like the estimated 970-step process for building a table from crafted planks. With a combination of imitation and reinforcement learning, the bot could take on construction projects involving over 20,000 consecutive actions.

However, there exist ethical issues in the kind of data troves used in imitation and reinforcement learning, and how effectively they can be applied.

OpenAI was co-founded in 2015 by a team including Sam Altman and Elon Musk, recording Peter Thiel as an initial investor. Musk stepped down from the board of directors in 2018.

By Marvellous Iwendi.

Source: Popular Science