Artificial intelligence is complex, but creating it is relatively simple. Plop it in a virtual environment, give it a goal, and let it fail and fail and fail until it figures out how to complete the task at hand. Easy enough when you’re teaching an AI to play Atari games or chess, but what about something more complex? Like, say, Minecraft?
Microsoft is building a suite of tools that allow researchers to use Minecraft to train up their future Skynets. Minecraft has a few virtues as an AI trainer, not the least of which is that it creates a full world for the AI to interact with and a human body to “map” the AI to. That’s important if you’re hoping to train AIs to climb mountains, explore caves, or punch trees. Even if the goal is to just build a decent house, it’ll still be useful to researchers who learn how the AI operates, what does and doesn’t sink in, and whether or not throwing dynamite at farm animals is inherent to the game or just something 10-year-olds need to get out of their system.
Don’t expect an AI to build a giant golden toilet any time soon, though. Minecraft is an order of magnitude more complex than the relatively simple games most AIs are mastering now, and it’s going to take a lot of time and a lot of getting eaten by Creepers before the AI can easily do the tasks assigned to it. Maybe once that’s done, we can inflict the Water Temple on it and see what it does.
(Via The Verge)