Microsoft, the owner of the Minecraft video game has announced that amateurs and computer scientists will be able to develop AI software using its virtual landscapes from July this year.

Experts have stated that Minecraft is currently more sophisticated than existing artificial intelligence simulations and potentially cheaper. Prof Jose Hernandez-Orallo from the Technical University of Valencia commented that “At this moment there is nothing comparable, and this is just in its beginnings, so I see many possibilities for it.”

He continued, “Kids could create agents in a world they are already fascinated with, and play with them. This could boost young people’s interest in artificial intelligence, and we expect that in the next 10 to 20 years we are going to need more people working in the area.”

Minecraft Microsoft has suggested that the open-ended nature of the Minecraft game makes it incredibly useful because of the variety of situations which can be simulated from first person perspectives. For now, the trials will be separated from normal users of the software, with experiments running on researcher’s computers.
Katja Hofmann, who leads the project at Microsoft’s Research Cambridge lab in the UK commented “People build amazing structures that do amazing things in Minecraft, and this allows experimenters to put in tasks that will stretch AI technology beyond its current capacity.”

“But eventually, we will be able to scale this up further to include tasks that allow AI agents to learn to collaborate with humans and support them in a creative manner.

“This provides a way to take AI from where it is today up to human-level intelligence, which is where we want to be, in several decades time.”

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