University developed StarCraft AI defeats pro players

Matt Purslow

Starcraft: Brood War Mutalisk

Some breakthroughs are awesome. Others are downright frightening. We're unsure how to categorise this latest news that university students have developed an AI system for StarCraft: Brood War that can beat seasoned human players. Read on for details.

The AI - known as the Berkeley Overmind - is an incredible feat of advanced programming. The brainchild of Dan Klein and his team of super computer science fans, it achieved victory at the 2010 AI and Interactive Digital Entertainment (AIIDE) Conference StarCraft AI competition. The system is programmed to work its way around different tactics and micro-manage effectively, leading a Zerg army to victory almost every time.

In an article at ars technica , the team's Probabilistic Sensing and Threat Estimator expert Haomiao Huang explains how the Overlord's Zerg forces obliterate the Terran army of Spains no.1 StarCraft player Oriol Vinyals. "Oriol makes a desperate, last-ditch attack on the Zerg base, trying to break through before the mutalisks are reinforced, but it's too late. One after another, his goliaths get ripped apart by the Zerg defenses. As a new wave of mutalisks emerges from the Zerg hatcheries, he has no choice but to concede—to the computerized AI that just defeated him."

Head over to ars technica to read the whole four-page story , chronicling the highs and lows of developing an AI that may end up developing time-travelling killer robots. Maybe.

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