Microsoft has announced plans to make the hugely popular video game Minecraft into a potent tool for AI researchers. By installing an open source software platform called AIX, which is set to be distributed in July, the game will act as a test bed that an AI entity can be taught to explore.
Something as simple as climbing a hill might seem like a basic AI research project, but creating a robot that can carry out the necessary movements is often prohibitively expensive. By limiting that motion to the virtual world of Minecraft, researchers can perform similar experiments without the associated costs.
Given that Minecraft uses a sandbox structure, it’s well-suited to research projects that teach AIs to make decisions about the world around them. In the game, these choices might relate to avoiding a fiery death in a pool of lava or staying inside at night to hide from nocturnal enemies, but the fundamentals could have real world applications.