Computer artificial intelligence has learned to play vintage video games without any prior instructions in a bid to achieve human-like scoring abilities, scientists claim

February 27, 2015 11:44 am

A new kind of artificial intelligence has learned to play vintage
video games without any prior instructions in a bid to achieve
human-like scoring abilities, scientists claim.
The machine learns by itself from scratch, using a trial and error approach reinforced by the reward of a score in the game.

This is fundamentally different from previous game-playing “intelligent” computers.
The
system of software algorithms is called Deep Q-network and has learned
to play 49 classic Atari games such as Space Invaders and Breakout, with
only the help of information about the pixels on a screen and the
scoring method.
Scientists behind the development say the
software is a breakthrough in artificial intelligence capable of
learning without being fed instructions from human experts – the classic
method for chess playing machines like IBM’s Deep Blue computer.

Photo / Thinkstock“This work is the first time anyone has built a single,
general learning system that can learn directly from experience to
master a wide range of challenging tasks, in this case a set of Atari
games, and to perform at or better than human level,” said Demis
Hassabis, a former neuroscientist and founder of DeepMind Technologies,
which was bought by Google for $821 million in 2014.
The Deep
Q-network played the same game hundreds of times to learn the best way
to get high scores. In some games it outperformed humans by learning
smart tactics.
In more than half the games, the system was able
to achieve more than 75 per cent of the human scoring ability just by
trial and error, said a study published in the Nature journal.
“The
advantage of these kinds of systems is that they can learn and adapt to
unexpected things and the programmers and systems designers don’t have
to know the solution themselves in order for the machine to master that
task,” Hassabis said.

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