In the pixelated cube world of "Minecraft," players can create almost anything their hearts desire. Now, Microsoft is using the popular world-building game to build and test artificial intelligence in the fictional environment.
Microsoft has made a platform for artificial intelligence (A.I.) research using a modified version of "Minecraft" that will become available to the public following a limited release to select researchers. Project Malmo (formerly known as Project AIX) allows anyone from ambitious amateur coders to advanced computer scientists to build and test artificial intelligence in the "Minecraft" environment.
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"We?re trying to put out the tools that will allow people to make progress on those really, really hard research questions," Katja Hofmann, the project's lead researcher, said in a Microsoft blog post announcing the release.
Project Malmo isn't designed to build A.I. that solves specific problems. Instead, the research team hopes these tools will be used to develop a general artificial intelligence capable of "planning, reasoning, natural language, and learning," Hofmann told Live Science in an email.
"Minecraft's open-ended nature makes it particularly appealing for A.I. experimentation," Hofmann said.
In the standard "Minecraft" game, players are free to move about, interact with the world and build all manner of unusual creations block by block. An active community around modifications to the game persists years after its original release, and the great potential for creativity has even earned the game a place in the collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
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