Blizzard will show off Google's Deepmind AI in StarCraft 2 later this week

Back in 2016, artificial intelligence researchers at Google's Deepmind turned their attention to StarCraft 2, an effort that picked up steam the following year when Blizzard released tools that enabled them to build bots capable of taking on human opponents. It also opened a data cache of 65,000 past matches to be used in training the bots, and said that it would add another half-million games to the cache each month.

Blizzard issued a fairly low-key "work is continuing" update at the most recent BlizzCon, although there was a certain ominous edge to it: Deepmind had developed a habit of immediately worker-rushing its opponents, for instance, a behavior Blizzard said was "amusing," before acknowledging that it also had a 50 percent success rate against StarCraft 2 AI opponents at the "Insane" difficulty.   

And it was still learning: "After feeding the agent replays from real players, it started to execute standard macro-focused strategies, as well as defend against aggressive tactics such as cannon rushes," Blizzard said at the time. 

Even though that was in November 2018—less than three months ago—it's already time for another update. "It’s only been a few months since BlizzCon but DeepMind is ready to share more information on their research," Blizzard said today, reminding us all that AIs learn at a geometric rate. "The StarCraft games have emerged as a 'grand challenge' for the AI community as they're the perfect environment for benchmarking progress against problems such as planning, dealing with uncertainty and spatial reasoning." 

The most recent developments will be revealed at 10 am PT/1 pm ET on January 24, on the StarCraft Twitch channel and Deepmind's YouTube channel. Hopefully it won't include anything about viruses

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.