Artificial intelligence made short work of Go, a 3,000-year-old Chinese board game with more possible moves than atoms in the observable universe, so how it will fare taking on a video game classic like Doom? AI researchers are going to find out, and have announced a new challenge looking for computers that know how to handle a rocket launcher, with the best bots set to duke it out in a deathmatch later this year at the Computational Intelligence and Games (CIG) Conference.
At first glance, this might sound like a walk in the park. After all, if you’ve ever played a first-person-shooter against computer enemies, you’ll know they can be as fast and accurate as, well, a computer. But the bots you’ve played will have had access to the game’s inner workings — they’re looking at the world like Neo in The Matrix, with perfect knowledge of maps, weapons, and the positions of other players. For the “Visual AI Doom Competition,” artificially intelligent bots will only have the same information as a human: they’ll see the screen in front of them, and nothing more.
This means that the bots will have to learn about their virtual world in a manner more familiar to humans. Demis Hassabis, co-founder of the Google-owned DeepMind division that beat Go, told The Verge earlier this year that video games can actually be a greater challenge for AI for this reason. “There are obviously all sorts of video games that humans play way better than computers, like StarCraft,” said Hassabis. “Strategy games require a high level of strategic capability in an imperfect information world — ‘partially observed,’ it’s called. The thing about Go is obviously you can see everything on the board, so that makes it slightly easier for computers.”