FIRST THEY CAME FOR OUR ANCIENT CHINESE BOARDGAMES, now artificial intelligence (AI) machines are going after people who play video games like Super Smash Brothers and making them look like utter flipping idiots.
Go was bad enough. We don't have many feelings for that game, but Super Smash Brothers is something that we can relate to. After all, who hasn't wanted to wildly smash up a number of buildings or people at some time?
So how did we get to here? Well, believe it or not, it was all down to a bet. New Scientist reports that a couple of years ago someone challenged a security researcher, suggesting that no one could build a bot that could top him at Smash Brothers.
The researcher, Dan Petro, took that as a challenge, saying that he went home and started building a buddy beating bot called SmashBot. "I took that as a challenge," he said. "I directly programmed an optimum strategy into SmashBot."
Smashbot was tested, first against the Super Smash Brothers virtual opponents and then against itself. Smashbot, presumably not stupid enough not to realise that it was playing against itself, was lined up to have a pop at real people thanks for an intervention from Vlad Firoiu at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
New Scientist reports that the AI would play as a character called Captain Falcon, and played against some top-ranking players. It took them back to school.
"You can't plan far ahead with Smash like you can with, for example, Go. To add to the difficulty, the attacks you perform can be used against you by your opponent," said Firoiu.
"After a couple of hours the AI was good enough to beat the in-game AI, and after a couple of weeks it could beat the top-ranking humans."
The good news is that the AI is not quite as good as it sounds and it is very easy to fool it, at least under these circumstances. Firoiu said that if an opponent just crouched in a corner and did not engage then the Smashbot would kill itself.
Here's hoping that this option stands when AI decides to rise up and take over. Because the INQUIRER only has so many baseball bats. µ
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