Yet more proof that Minecraft is more than just a game comes our way today. Microsoft already has plans to use the platform, which it bought for $2.5 billion, to help kids learn and for virtual reality, and now we can add artificial intelligence development to that list, too.
Today, Microsoft announced a project that enables artificial intelligence researchers to tap into the hit title to sculpt and develop their tech. AIX is a new software development platform that researchers can use to develop ‘agents’ — AI-powered characters — which roam Minecraft worlds. The idea is to equip them with the smarts to behave like a regular player. So that includes basic commands, such as climbing up a hill, and more complicated requirements like navigating varied terrain, building out landscapes and just surviving from the game’s vicious zombies.
Katja Hofmann, who leads the project, explained that Minecraft’s openness and creativity present larger opportunities to explore and develop AI than currently exist. That’s not unlike the reasons why Google-owned DeepMind has focused on Go, having just defeated a legendary human champion of the Asian strategy game over a five game series.
“Minecraft is the perfect platform for this kind of research because it’s this very open world,” Hofmann said. “You can do survival mode, you can do ‘build battles’ with your friends, you can do courses, you can implement our own games. This is really exciting for artificial intelligence because it allows us to create games that stretch beyond current abilities.”