The world acclaimed video game Minecraft is currently used as a test bench for AI innovation.
This sandbox game, which consists in building and surviving in this block made environment, was developed by the swedish developers of Mojang. The developer team was then bought by the almighty Microsoft in September 2015 for $2.5 billion, followed up by the Redmond giant’s acquisition of Teacher Gaming LLC’s MinecraftEdu line of teaching tools in January this year.
The game has now gone far beyond its roots as a simple building game, and through mods and additional development can also be used as a teaching tool to instruct students on a variety of topics. Now, however, this platform is destined to contribute to the development of artificial intelligence.
Known as Project AIX, Microsoft said last weekend this new platform, based on the game, is currently used as a training tool for AI. Scientists are training the AI how to interact with the “Minecraft environment”: the tester AI is currently being developed to be able to learn how to do things such as climb mountains in the virtual world — although not without continual dives into lava and rivers.
Minecraft’s virtual reality, in comparison to other programs, is considered sophisticated enough for deeper tests and is also far cheaper than building robots for testing in the physical realm.
The platform consists of a mod for the Java Minecraft version as well as advanced code to assist AI in working with the Minecraft environment. The platform is compatible with Windows, Linux and Mac OS X, and researchers can tailor their artificial intelligence agents to run in whatever programming language they wish.
AIX is currently available to a handful of researchers in a private beta, but will be released to the open-source community in summer.