Written by Fred Bailey
On Friday night, August 11, before a packed house of 17,000 at the Key Arena in Seattle—as well as a world-wide live streaming audience of maybe 20 million—an Artificial Intelligence (AI) bot defeated one of the best professional gamers on earth in a surprise match at The International 2017 Dota 2 tournament, the biggest, most significant competitive eSports event of its kind, with a $24 million purse this year.
The bot was created by OpenAI, Elon Musk’s non-profit artificial-intelligence research startup, based in San Francisco.
The CTO of OpenAI, Greg Brockman, said his bot was self-taught—they duplicated it for training purposes, and then it played thousands of games against itself over a period of two weeks, with only a little coaching from his staff.
Computers have already beaten human beings at board games like chess. In fact, most recently, Google’s AlphaGo AI software defeated Chinese Go champ Ke Jie in May, after drubbing a South Korean master last year, four games out of five.
Dota 2 is a bit different. It’s a multi-player online battle-arena (MOBA) game, widely recognized for having a steep learning curve. And yet the winning AI bot beat pro Danylo Ishutin in the first bout in less than ten minutes. Ishutin resigned from the second bout—pleading with the bot to “please stop bullying me”—and then refused to join in on the third bout.
Dota is shorthand for Defense of the Ancients, an online game developed and issued by Valve Corporation of Seattle. Usually the stand-alone sequel, Dota 2, is played by two teams of five players each, while the exhibition battle in Seattle with Ishutin was one-on-one. There were a lot of other caveats as well, such as the bot possibly having access to game data hidden from human players. So maybe it’s not quite as momentous an accomplishment as winning at chess or Go, where nothing is hidden from any combatant.
Nevertheless, it’s undeniably another step forward for Artificial Intelligence.
AI, eSports, and gaming are all in the mix of panel discussions
at the 2nd annual Hollywood Entertainment Technology Festival,
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