BlizzCon Recap: DeepMind and StarCraft II Deep Learning
StarCraft II players now have a unique opportunity to contribute to innovative and important tech research. At BlizzCon today, researchers and engineers from both DeepMind and Blizzard detailed their ongoing collaboration to open up StarCraft II to the AI research community. DeepMind regularly publishes cutting-edge research on how computers can learn to solve any complex problem without needing to be taught how. The small universe that is a StarCraft II game will provide a perfect laboratory to further this research. These advancements also potentially unlock new game features for StarCraft II players.
Early AI researchers experimented with games like chess, where brute force number crunching and pre-programmed rules allowed computers to beat humans. Recently DeepMind took on the much more difficult challenge of the ancient game of Go. Their agent “AlphaGo” bootstrapped its ability to play by watching and imitating human games. AlphaGo learned the rules and strategy that would defeat Lee Sedol, a Go world champion. DeepMind has also used 2D and simple 3D video games to simulate real-world problems. These techniques can be applied to make meaningful innovations in real-world areas like energy, healthcare and science.
StarCraft II is the ideal platform for taking the next step in AI research. The complex rules of the game provide a useful bridge to the messiness of the real world. You start by learning how to mine, how to place and build basic structures and how to explore the map and find your hidden opponent. Should you build more units, or do you need new defensive structures? Will you rush your opponent, or focus on your tech first?
You had to learn each of these tactics, but for a computer learning how to do even one of these problems just by looking at a screen is a cutting-edge research challenge. DeepMind is now exploring solving these problems in the intense laboratory of StarCraft II. Together we are opening up this research platform so that everyone in the StarCraft II community can play a role in advancing the state of the art of AI research.
Learn more about DeepMind’s plans for StarCraft II in their blog.
How to Get Involved
In collaboration with DeepMind, we are building a platform for custom AIs to fully interact with StarCraft II. Whether you are a researcher or hobbyist, this platform will be open to anyone who wants to participate. For the technically-minded, here is an early look at the “StarCraft II API” we are considering for Q1 2017:
For general fans of StarCraft II, just play to advance this research! Playing on the ladder helps us generate replays which these AIs can use to understand the game. We don’t yet know where this research will lead for our game, or for games in general. This could turn into features like expert coaches to help players, AI driven commentators, and much more. This collaboration with DeepMind opens an exciting new chapter for StarCraft II, and for real world research. Your comments and ideas are welcome, and keep an eye on our blog and forum for updates.