Project Malmo is teaching an AI to think for itself by playing Minecraft


We’ve heard of Minecraft being used in schools to teach kids before, but now it’s being used to train an artificial intelligence program to develop independent thought. Is this how the apocalypse happens? 

You might not be an AI, but you can still enjoy our list of the best Minecraft seeds

Over at Project Malmo (the group’s Katja Hofmann and Matthew Johnson are pictured above) they are using Minecraft as a platform to develop better AI, and they’ve made their open source tool-set available to the public today in a bid to collect more data.

AI is already used to translate speech, identify human faces and even generate text – hello, Twitter bots. Project Malmo is all about pushing them further and trying to get AI to learn new things by itself.

Minecrat is a sandbox that slowly reveals itself to you as you play. When you first enter the blocky world, you might succumb to the monsters that come out at night. The next time you play, you might carve out a cave. You’ll then work up to a house, or maybe even a fort. Eventually, you’ll be clad in armour and will have forged weapons to protect you from the creatures.

That’s just one example of the learning process involved with playing Minecraft, but then take into account the knowledge of ores, crafting recipes, enemy types and the properties of different blocks. There’s a lot to soak up and many different ways you can apply it, making it the perfect testing ground for an AI.

According to the Minecraft blog post, “the hope is that, through Project Malmo, the game will provide researchers the world over with a single richly interactive test-bed, across which it is easy to compare different approaches or foster collaboration.”

You can read more about Project Malmo at that link, or if you can code you can try out the mod for PC / Mac edition.