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Artificial Dominance
When IBM’s Deep Blue first defeated the world champion of chess in 1996, the world stopped and stared in amazement. IBM shocked the world once again in 2008 when its Watson took on the world’s best at Jeopardy and beat them. All of that took a backseat to Google DeepMind’s AI, AlphaGo, when it defeated Lee Sedol, who is considered by many as the world’s best Go player, in a landslide victory of 4-1.

After having conquered the most difficult perfect information game, where everything is open to be analyzed and considered, the question is: What’s next for DeepMind?
In an interview with The Verge, Demis Hassabis, DeepMind’s CEO, talked about no limit hold’em poker but ultimately teased that they would be taking on StarCraft: Brood War as their next objective.
A joke chart of how the difficulty of various games for computers is.

Picture is property of XKCD. Click to view full size.

Why StarCraft?

StarCraft: Brood War was and is still one of the defining games in the Real Time Strategy (RTS) genre. It was released in 1998 and because of its age, its unit had wonky AI at best. Ask anyone who played the Protoss race back in the day and they might tell you horror stories of Dragoons getting stuck, walking around in circles, and moving into enemy armies because of the illogical path finding. On top of its AI, Brood War also had some of the clunkier mechanics and many actions had to be executed manually rather than through hotkeys that we have now. All of this culminated into a game that still holds a skill ceiling only a few Bonjwas have had the honor of skimming.

Starcraft: Brood War shoft gif with clunky articial intelligence.

Clunky AI

 

But more than that, it is the realm of incomplete information as well as real-time decision making that’s on the horizon for DeepMind, a company that holds its ultimate objective as creating a general purpose artificial intelligence. There is really no better game to put that to test than StarCraft: Brood War.

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