Everyone’s favourite 8-bit game has crossed a new frontier in Artificial Intelligence development. Microsoft has finally allowed public access to Project Malmo.
What is Project Malmo you might ask? It is described by Allison Linn, Senior Writer at Microsoft, as “…a platform that uses the world of Minecraft as a testing ground for advanced artificial intelligence research.” In other words, a playground for AI creation. Linn originally posted a blog about the release on the Microsoft website.
Project Malmo was originally a private learning experience. There were a minimal amount of computer scientists present initially. The notion behind using Minecraft was that it provides an incredibly realistic simulated world. This means that the project could teach AI to craft, explore and live their “lives.” The added perk, of course, being minimal costs from errors.
Part of the issue with running experiments on AI is that is that the expenses can add up very quickly. If you have a particularly dense robot that just doesn’t want to learn, that is a costly piece of equipment damaged or lost in the trial. Using Minecraft allows the scientists to teach the robots to learn exactly how they would in real life. It is much easier to create a learning environment for AI when there are minimal real life consequences. Unfortunately it feels like the AI will miss out on wonderful things like nabbing achievements named “Getting Wood.”
Katja Hofmann is the researcher who has been the driving force for Project Malmo. The original purpose of the enterprise was to provide a medium for professionals. But it is already growing to be a platform for beginners to hone their craft. A few professors are looking to integrate Malmo into their curriculum. All in all the whole notion of AI running around in the world of Minecraft punching trees, building houses, fighting creepers and creating lives really does beg the question, “Do 8-bit AIs dream of Minecraft sheep?”
You can find out more about Project Malmo via Github.com.