Minecraft as an Test/Play-ground for Human-Machine Collaboration

Source: MIT Technology Review, Jul 2016

An experimental new version of the game, released by Microsoft researchers this month, can be used to train an AI to perform all sorts of tasks, from crossing bridges to building complex objects. The new platform, called Project Malmo, makes it possible for a learning algorithm to control a Minecraft character that’s normally operated by a human player. But it also provides ways for human players and AI agents to work together, and a chat window through which a person can talk with a nascent AI.

“In the long run I want to work toward AI that can be taught by any user to help them achieve their goals,” says Katja Hoffman, a researcher at Microsoft Cambridge in the U.K. who leads the project.

… human-AI collaboration is a key goal for the project: “We’ve built in all the capabilities that a researcher would need in order to work toward collaborative AI.”

Increasingly clever machine-learning algorithms have the potential to make people more productive and efficient, an idea that Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella has emphasized as especially important for his company. However, relatively little research emphasis has been placed on getting humans and AI to team up.

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