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Computers That Crush Humans at Games Might Have Met Their Match: 'starcraft'

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A StarCraft tournament held last September in Seoul.

Some of the worlds biggest nerds are confident machines will meet their Waterloo on the pixelated battlefields of the computer strategy game StarCraft.

Credit: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg News

The next frontier for game-playing artificial intelligence (AI) could be the popular real-time strategy game "StarCraft," in which players assume the roles of three different warring races competing for domination using stealth and subterfuge.

Blizzard Entertainment president Michael Morhaime is eager for StarCraft to be selected for AI trials, noting "we would love to be a milestone on that advance of artificial intelligence, from chess to Go and then us."

In March, DeepMind founder Demis Hassabis named StarCraft a potential next target for his AI research team. The game's appeal to developers lies in its uncertainty, as players cannot see the entire strategy board at once, so computers cannot calculate all the possible maneuvers an opponent may perform; this makes bluffing and deception crucial stratagems that give human players an advantage over AI. "In order for a computer to win, it needs to learn how to lie," says professional StarCraft gamer Eugene Kim.

The continued dominion of human players over AI programs in tournaments is evident in the former's consistent victories in the annual StarCraft AI challenge run for the past five years by University of Alberta researcher David Churchill. He predicts humans will eventually be dethroned by AI as StarCraft champions, given AI's evolving progress in complex game strategy.

From The Wall Street Journal
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