New AI Is Capable of Beating Humans at Doom

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If there’s one thing that humanity used to be able to hang its hat on in the war against our future computer overlords, it’s that we could definitely beat the machines in a good old fashioned game of Doom

Now, however, it appears that even that accomplishment is another hubris of humanity. 

Two students at Carnegie Mellon University have designed an artificial intelligence program that is capable of beating human players in a deathmatch game of 1993’s Doom. Guillaume Lample and Devendra Singh Chaplot spent four months developing a program capable of playing first-person shooter games. The program made its debut at VizDoom (an AI competition that centered around the classic shooter) where it took second place despite the fact that their creation managed to beat human participants. 

That’s not the impressive part about this program, however. No, what’s really impressive is how the AI learns to play. The creator’s full write-up on the program (which is available here) notes that their AI “allows developing bots that play the game using the screen buffer.” What that means is that the program learns by interpreting what is happening on the screen as opposed to following a pre-set series of command instructions alone. In other words, this AI learns to play in exactly the same way a human player learns to play. 

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If this idea can be expanded upon, it could mean a tremendous leap forward in video game artificial intelligence design. This theory has been explored practically before, but Doom is arguably the most complicated game a program fueled by that concept has been able to succeed at. The AI’s creators have already confirmed that they will be moving on to Quake, which will be a much more interesting test of this technologies capabilities given that Quake presents a much more complex 3D environment. 

Oh, and the developers claim that their AI won one of the competition games by learning to duck and therefore making itself much harder to hit. That means that computers are not only beating humans in FPS games but now they’re starting to troll us as well.