Does Playing Video Games Make Robots Smarter?

You thought you were pretty cool when you busted out the latest high score on your Pac-Man cocktail table, but how will you feel when a robot beats you at Grand Theft Auto then drives your car around for you? You might not believe it, but some of the greatest minds of today believe that the future lies in artificial intelligence. Soon, your AI will be taking care of a large portion of your everyday tasks using a key skill called “general intelligence.”

What Is General Intelligence?

While great strides have been made in the field of developing AI, most robots are specialized. They can do one task very well, but if you ask them to do something they aren’t precisely trained for, they fall short.

Researchers are finding that AI systems are only as proficient as their ability to learn and adapt. When they can apply learned skills to new problems, they come closer to possessing “general intelligence” and are better able to mimic human behavior.

OpenAI’s Plan

OpenAI is a non-profit artificial intelligence research firm backed by Elon Musk, Microsoft and more. OpenAI developers believe that by training AI systems to play video games on a software platform called Universe, each system can track and test its own performance, using the score of the game to measure whether they are succeeding at their task.

The games available on this platform include many free Flash-based games, but also titles like Grand Theft Auto V and Portal. Universe can also run software, so AI systems can also train on programs like Microsoft Excel or Adobe Photoshop.

Ultimately, the goal of researchers is to make it possible for AI to complete any task on a computer that a human is capable of. If AI systems have the ability to do that, they could also adapt in real-time, providing much more value as they’re used by humans for greater productivity purposes.

Some critics worry that allowing AI to play video games with violent components is a dangerous prospect, but developers disagree. OpenAI doesn’t teach violence to its AIs and only wants to use games like Grand Theft Auto V for the driving skill component of the game.

AI is only getting smarter, so start brushing up on your gaming skills or else you may be schooled by a robot sometime soon.