OpenAI Successfully Trains AI to Play Minecraft Almost as Well as Humans

In 2009, an unknown independent game called Minecraft was unleashed, and little did anyone realize just how much of a behemoth it would go on to become. It gained traction fairly quickly, becoming one of the highest grossing video games of the last decade, if not of all time. Pretty much anyone of any age on any modern device can play it. But then there’s the question of whether non-humans can get to grips with it. With the advances in AI over the years, it would be interesting to see just how a computer could navigate a digital world, and one team has managed to do just that.


The people over at OpenAI, a research department dedicated to discovering how artificial intelligence can benefit humanity, has trained a neural network to play Minecraft to such an extent that it’s almost indistinguishable from a human player through something called Video PreTraining. Over the course of 70,000 hours’ worth of online videos and some “fine-tuning,” the AI ​​has gotten to grips with the basics of the game and completed more complex tasks like searching villages for items, making a crafting table, and even mining for diamonds to create tools.

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Seeing the AI ​​mine diamonds to create a diamond pickaxe in Minecraft is quite something. The report goes on to say that it takes the average human player around 20 minutes, or 24,000 actions, to do this. In fact, even the footage of it completing some more basic chores is really impressive. It’s almost frightening to see how well it was able to learn. It’s even been trained to hunt animals, so it can eat food. In order to improve the neural network’s capabilities, there was some fine-tuning involved in which contractors were asked to play 10 minutes of the game. This seemingly led to an increase in the AI’s performance, which included some “rudimentary shelter construction.”

Neural networks are becoming more aligned with video games, utilizing algorithms and artificial intelligence to generate new worlds. Of course, AI has always been a part of gaming, such as bots in multiplayer games or just simple enemy pathfinding. But what OpenAI is showing is just how it learns to not only mimic what’s being shown, but learn a set of “large-scale behavioral priors.”

With the Minecraft 1.19 update going live recently, the game itself is not showing any signs of slowing down. Obviously, there is a lot of potential for a team of researchers to teach neural networks about gaming. There are numerous possibilities for advanced artificial intelligence in the industry, and it’s equal parts fascinating and terrifying to watch unfold.

Minecraft is available for Mobile, PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.

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Source: Open AI

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