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AI Taught How To Play Ms. Pac-Man

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the way-better-than-i-can dept.

Robotics 167

trogador writes with the news that researchers are working to teach AIs how to play games as an exercise in reinforced learning. Software constructs have been taught to play games like chess and checkers since the 50s, but the Department of Information Systems at Eotvos University in Hungary is working to adapt that thinking to more modern titles. Besides Ms. Pac-Man, game like Tetris and Baldur's Gate assist these programs in mapping different behaviors onto their artificial test subjects. "Szita and Lorincz chose Ms. Pac-Man for their study because the game enabled them to test a variety of teaching methods. In the original Pac-Man, released in 1979, players must eat dots, avoid being eaten by four ghosts, and score big points by eating flashing ghosts. Therefore, a player's movements depend heavily on the movements of ghosts. However, the ghosts' routes are deterministic, enabling players to find patterns and predict future movements. In Ms. Pac-Man, on the other hand, the ghosts' routes are randomized, so that players can't figure out an optimal action sequence in advance."

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Not Really (5, Funny)

ilikepi314 (1217898) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111506)

It just lied that it could play Ms. Pac-Man so it could get more reward food.

Re:Not Really (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111882)

Too easy to check up on that. It lied about it's top score.

Re:Not Really (5, Funny)

BinarySkies (920189) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112486)

The joke is on it, the cake is a lie.

Re:Not Really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22112854)

Man, that must be the most self-referent joke of all /.

What I have learn from PacMan is (4, Funny)

mastermemorex (1119537) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111532)

live fast, eat chips, big ones are the best and avoid the gosh with ugly faces

re Now we KNOW! (5, Funny)

jelizondo (183861) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111534)

In Ms. Pac-Man, on the other hand, the ghosts' routes are randomized, so that players can't figure out an optimal action sequence in advance.

I feel I'm beginning to understand ...

Perhaps the greatest achievement of AI would be to understand female behavior

Re:re Now we KNOW! (5, Funny)

AndGodSed (968378) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111586)

That my friend, is a statistical; scientific and verrily a religious impossibility.

Re:re Now we KNOW! (2, Funny)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112124)

Not to mention very cruel. You'd have the poor little A.I.'s brain snapping like a twig trying to figure out things like "If you don't know why I'm mad then I'm not going to tell you". It would be the A.I. equivalent to torture!

Re:re Now we KNOW! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22112364)

That my friend, is [...] a religious impossibility.
Absolutely. What would God do if we figured out why she created the universe the way she did?

Not gonna happen (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111604)

"I feel I'm beginning to understand ...
Perhaps the greatest achievement of AI would be to understand female behavior"


Understand that you can never 'understand' female behavior and be done with the entire exercise...

Re:Not gonna happen (5, Funny)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111706)

The simple fact is that when the female suspects that the male is beginning to understand her behavior, she changes the rules.

Re:Not gonna happen (1)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | more than 6 years ago | (#22113012)

Of course then the trick is to pretned you know what she's doing until you do then pretend you don't.

Of course the range of possible female behaviours approximates infinity and thanks to feminism the range of acceptable female behaviours is perhaps a superset of the possible...

I'm just happy when they stay away from the subset that involves hitting you...

Re:re Now we KNOW! (2, Funny)

the_banjomatic (1061614) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112056)

Perhaps the greatest achievement of AI would be to understand female behavior
Obligatory, but true none the less: "The only way to win is not to play"

Re:re Now we KNOW! (3, Funny)

stonedcat (80201) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112452)

This should not be difficult for most slashdot readers.

And here I thought (0, Offtopic)

AndGodSed (968378) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111570)

I was playing quakewars against the computer AI, you know... the bots?

Re:And here I thought (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22111644)

did you read the article summary or did you just glance at it while freebasing

Bad idea (4, Funny)

QuickFox (311231) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111572)

As if everybody didn't already waste too much time on games, do we have to teach programs to waste time too?

Re:Bad idea - NOT (5, Funny)

jelizondo (183861) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111638)

Only by teaching them to waste time AI will be become truly human...

Re:Bad idea (5, Insightful)

GroeFaZ (850443) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111694)

The good part is, computers are several orders of magnitude more efficient at wasting time than humans.

Re:Bad idea (1)

Tribbin (565963) | more than 6 years ago | (#22113154)

Your post is rated Insighful.

*Some* need to re-tune their dotbots.

--

This post is generated

Re:Bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22113164)

The good part is, computers are several orders of magnitude more efficient at wasting time than humans.

Let me guess, you use Vista.

Re:Bad idea (2, Funny)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111884)

What are you talking about? By having machines play our games for us, humans can finally move on and become truly free.

so... (5, Funny)

dashslotter (1093743) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111582)

Who's Al?

Re:so... (1)

hotwatermusic (911310) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111618)

Allen Iverson..duh.

Re:so... (3, Funny)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111780)

Well, he could be Betty's long lost pal.

Re:so... (1)

Ajehals (947354) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112376)

Nah, Betty's mate just used Al as a pseudonym.

Re:so... (1, Redundant)

ChefInnocent (667809) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111924)

Well, at first, I read it as "Al Taught How To Play Ms. Pac-Man", so my first thought was Al Gore. But a second parsing lead me to AI or Artificial Intelligence (though some my acquantences think American Idol). The font can really lead to an ambiguous reading.

Re:so... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22112384)

What?

Re:so... (1)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112390)

Al Gore of course. He also told the ghosts how to be ecologically responsible and not to contribute to global warming.

Re:so... (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22113094)

I can call you Pac-Man/And Pac-Man when you call me/You can call me Al...

"AI"s tend to be overhyped (4, Interesting)

eyenot (102141) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111590)

I think most press releases re: AI are misleading. I highly doubt there is anything like "AI" behind the program they have that attempts to solve Ms.Pacman. Consider if you wrote an "AI" that started off with what you as a human starts off with: the ability to see the screen and understand what the various graphics depict or mean; how to control the pac character; what the basic goals and obstacles are; and a desire to rack up points. An "Artificial Intelligence" (AI) would be able to start with that much and build its skill level as it plays. Presumably it would quickly build a talent that can beat average humans, then most humans, then eventually all humans since it has faster reflexes and doesn't get tired (or make errors once it's learned). That, I think, would justify a press release "AI learns to play Ms.Pacman". However, scripting something that plays the game as well as you can imagine it should be played doesn't seem to be news any more than "scripters automate online game play". I only note this because the article mentioned "teaching" the "AI"; that's not very scientific, considering you're trying to see something learn, and should be maintaining scientific control over the learning process.

Re:"AI"s tend to be overhyped (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22111786)

Bingo! Having a game figure out the rules and behaviors has nothing to with 'Intelligence' at all (as this article [tinyurl.com] by Korzybsky points out.)
Rather, it shows that rules can be 'learned' but tells nothing about intelligence as a being able to apply past sets of understanding and either inductively reason or intuit next steps.

Re:"AI"s tend to be overhyped (4, Interesting)

bunratty (545641) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111920)

AI can be as simple as basic search algorithms such as breadth-first, A*, and minimax. When you play any board game against a machine, that's AI. When you get driving directions from a computer, that's AI. It seems to reason that AI is behind a computer playing Ms. Pacman. And in this case, the computer generate playing policies on its own, so it really is learning, improving its performance based on previous experience.

Re:"AI"s tend to be overhyped (1)

eyenot (102141) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112264)

Well, suffice it to say, I am simply not of the "camp" that believes "artificial intelligence" should be applied so cleanly and popularly to something that obviously does not do much "learning" on its own, at all.

Re:"AI"s tend to be overhyped (2, Insightful)

bunratty (545641) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112544)

I think you're referring to general or strong AI, which hasn't been developed yet. All we have now is weak AI, which even when it seems to demonstrate "learning", all it's really doing is running mechanical search algorithms and heuristics really, really fast.

Re:"AI"s tend to be overhyped (1)

eyenot (102141) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112688)

I'm just stating that there's no need for such a general application of the term "AI" so as to render it practically useless (dict. "hyper-realised"). It's akin to the term "nano-technology" being used now to refer to anything very small that's somehow industrially useful but not biological, such as buckytubes and other Fullerine structures. A carbon-lattice, curled-up tube -- seen by itself, out of context -- may have come just as easily from natural processes as "technological" (which is how they were discovered in the first place). "AI", now, is being applied to any programming which bears even the most unremarkable and shoddy human resemblance, or is being used to automate previously human-controlled tasks, even without any "learning" involved.

Re:"AI"s tend to be overhyped (4, Informative)

bunratty (545641) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112884)

But that is indeed how the term has been used for decades. What you describe is taught in AI classes and is described in AI books. It's the only kind of AI we have. As such, the term isn't useless. If you want to refer to original thought by a computer, use the term "strong AI," which hasn't been invented yet.

Re:"AI"s tend to be overhyped (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22113146)

AI can be as simple as basic search algorithms such as breadth-first, A*, and minimax. When you play any board game against a machine, that's AI.


I'd argue that. IMHO, it's the heuristics used to evaluate the positions discovered by the search that's the AI part of it.

Re:"AI"s tend to be overhyped (1)

ralphdaugherty (225648) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111948)


      AI seems to be nothing more than try random outputs and use feedback to reinforce outputs that resulted in success. It's sort of funny, my first recollection of this was in 1962 when a student in my grade school class performed this exercise for a project. A game was played repeatedly with losing moves recorded, developing a chart. Playing from the chart the game was eventually unbeatable by fellow students. The more things change the more they stay the same.

      I wrote a Double Deck Pinochle game (first for TRS-80, then DOS, then Java, and soon PHP) whose DOS version I released as freeware many years ago. As it plays as well or better than most humans, it might mistakenly be called AI as chess games were earlier, but it is just a program of logic as in any other computer program. Anything complex as that doesn't lend itself to the trivial output - feedback loops that modern day AI efforts involve. Of course the more ambitious efforts of the '80s are infamous in their failures.

      If we ever achieve AI it will be with a core of code that can generate modules of code that attempt different strategies, in other words grows a brain as program code and database, not just a matrix recording true - false results from random permutation outputs.

  rd

Re:"AI"s tend to be overhyped (1)

eyenot (102141) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112714)

Earlier, more abitious ideals of AI are what I based my criticism of this research on. Granted, there was a great deal of failure, but there was also some slight innovation (such as the tiny "e-life" routines) that went along with perhaps too much fear of returning to older methods or applying anything new back to them.

Re:"AI"s tend to be overhyped (1)

Unoti (731964) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112718)

If we ever achieve AI it will be with a core of code that can generate modules of code that attempt different strategies, in other words grows a brain as program code and database, not just a matrix recording true - false results from random permutation outputs.
In that case, the future is already here. You should look into the work of John Koza [wikipedia.org] and others. Their work involves generating code, real computer generated programs, not a matrix of lookup tables. I highly recommend his books, they are eye opening and amazing. (Warning, it's Lisp. But if you want to do this kind of work in any most other modern languages, you end up essentially building a Lisp-like interpreter anyway. Ruby would be one exception to this.)

Re:"AI"s tend to be overhyped (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112936)

If we ever achieve AI it will be with a core of code that can generate modules of code that attempt different strategies, in other words grows a brain as program code and database, not just a matrix recording true - false results from random permutation outputs.
I think you're referring to strong AI. Note that what you describe is not sufficient for strong AI. Doug Lenat used a technique like what you describe with Automated Mathematician [wikipedia.org] in 1977, but didn't succeed at doing much even in the limited field of mathematics.

Re:"AI"s tend to be overhyped (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22111954)

I think most press releases re: AI are misleading.
I think you don't understand the difference between AI and sentience.

Re:"AI"s tend to be overhyped (1)

GroeFaZ (850443) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112106)

I only note this because the article mentioned "teaching" the "AI"; that's not very scientific, considering you're trying to see something learn, and should be maintaining scientific control over the learning process.

All machine learning methods can be controlled, that's not the problem. The learning models either have parameters that can be retained or changed at will between runs, or they don't have parameters, which means the conditions are always the same, which saves the same purpose. The outcome can be defined, measured, and compared to other runs. Somewhere in between, random stuff from the outside happens, and from the outcome over many runs you can draw conclusions, for example which parameter had the most influence on the final result. You need the (pseudo)random input somewhere, otherwise you would always get the exact same result in every run. So from a scientific method view, there seems to be problem with machine learning experiments.

The problem I do see with machine learning as described in TFA is that it operated on a defined set of rules only. It won out over humans by a small margin, which even left the possibility that 4 of the 5 humans were still better than the AI, and that small possible victory happened despite having fewer strategic rules than humans, implying it won by brute force. So whatI would like to see is an AI developing novel behaviour, developing new sets of rules that really show off the difference in computing speed for such problems between a computing machine and an organic brain.

Re:"AI"s tend to be overhyped (1)

eyenot (102141) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112646)

I made a response to a later comment about brute forcing the pseudo-random element, and how if the designers had thought that through and simply included the obvious RNG and seeding subroutine, the script could have jumped that hurdle ahead of time and might already have shown the quantification of risk-taking in luring ghosts and timing pills (though I predict that those behaviours simply won't win out over avoiding risk and racking up points through stamina and perfection). I just don't think "AI" is a term that needs to be applied here (response I am going to make following this one).

Re:"AI"s tend to be overhyped (4, Informative)

Hado (923277) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112234)

I feel I must comment since I am familiar with the AI used in this case: Reinforcement Learning. RL is a method of finding a mapping of states to actions in a setting where rewards can be obtained. The interesting part is that RL algorithms can learn to behave optimally when only very basic information is given. For instance, it should be enough to simply give small rewards for eating the dots and large punishments for being caught by a ghost. There are many theoretical results in the field that also hold in the case of stochastic environments (such as when the ghosts move randomly). In a sense you don't have control over the learning process, at least not in the sense that you control what exactly happens and which actions get tried. However, in the end theoretically still perfect behavior can be learned. This may take quite some time though, but fortunately good behaviors usually emerge much sooner.

That being said, it is relatively easy to apply these techniques to games such as Ms. Pacman. Much harder problems have already been solved using RL algorithms. What seems missing in the article (though I don't know if this is also the case in the actual research) is comparisons with other RL methods than their own. Though their approach sounds promising and it's nice that they beat some human players, this is not uncommon in games for RL.

Re:"AI"s tend to be overhyped (1)

eyenot (102141) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112624)

Conversely, punishments could be foregone since it's only a game, and the script could be left with the in-game punishment provided, which is failing to make it as far and push the limits of the process, and rewards are already provided in-game in the form of the score. I can see how application of "RL" algorithms to the script itself might reveal some things about the application of scripted behaviour to the learning process, but I personally don't feel that this script constitutes AI (see other responses?)

Re:"AI"s tend to be overhyped (1)

Hado (923277) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112822)

Actually, having reread your initial post, I largely agree with you. I think RL should be able to solve Ms. Pacman without the need of higher level strategies that are either hand crafted or learned with the cross-entropy method described in the article. However, the article gives little useful information about this method so I cannot tell whether this can be sufficiently be descripted by the term 'scripting'. I feel sufficiently complex scripts can in fact be called AI. However, this is always a matter of subjective interpretation and valuation of algorithms.

Re:"AI"s tend to be overhyped (2, Informative)

Tyir (622669) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112254)

Actually, what you describe is exactly what Reinforcement Learning (RL) is. RL can be considered a subbranch of AI. In RL, an agent starts by knowing nothing about the environment. It explores the environment by taking available actions, in this domain, the actions would be exactly the actions available to the human players. It also has a reward signal R, which is used to train the agent to do the correct thing. Completing the level will probably give a high reward, encountering a ghost will give a negative reward. What a RL algorithm will do is give approximations for the future value of being in any state in the environment. What the researches will do is train the agent on the domain for a large number of steps (perhaps millions of games played in simulation) and the agent will learn to play the game well. Note this require *no* domain knowledge, i.e. the programmer doesn't but any heuristics, strategies, or high level tricks to have the agent complete the game, which I believe is what you think is being done here.

So what the technique used in this paper is doing exactly what you would consider "real" AI. Full disclosure, I am a Master's student who has done a good amount of work in RL, and I have not read the paper, so what I describe above is not going to be exactly right, but is probably the general idea.

Re:"AI"s tend to be overhyped (1)

eyenot (102141) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112596)

Understood, and I have no clinical knowledge of AI at all, and can only make general assumptions. However, I see what has been made here for Mc.Pacman (and for other specific environments) more as a combination between strategics and data-mining. The data to be mined in Ms.Pacman would be the predictability of the randomized ghost paths. I haven't looked at the arcade game code, but there is probably some pseudo-RNG involved that is seeded by a timer (if this is correct, in fact the ghosts would behave the same way if you could always start the game at the same exact time). Basically the only thing missing from this "AI" is the pseudo-RNG itself, which the designers could have easily thrown in along with knowledge of whatever the RNG is being seeded with. The outcome, if this is valuable at all, would perhaps be some formula for behaviour that can be reduced and tokenized and perhaps applied to resource-sharing or risk-taking; but this outcome will take considerably longer to arrive at considering that first the "AI" will be sorting through the pseudo-randomness. But I digress -- this "AI" isn't really learning anything, it's just dealing with missing variables. It can't make any cognitive leaps from the human equivalent of "intuition", it can't re-apply what it's learned (though in this specific case that's probably more due to the restraints of the tiny and simplistic environment), and if I read the article correctly (nor did I read the research paper) it doesn't properly make informed decisions, and all of its actions are entirely predetermined, albeit by a pseudorandom element. Considering that innovation is considered either a hallmark of intelligence or its entire purpose, it would seem that by that standard alone the game itself will always be more intelligent than this "AI".

Re:"AI"s tend to be overhyped (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112664)

this "AI" isn't really learning anything, it's just dealing with missing variables. It can't make any cognitive leaps from the human equivalent of "intuition", it can't re-apply what it's learned (though in this specific case that's probably more due to the restraints of the tiny and simplistic environment), and if I read the article correctly (nor did I read the research paper) it doesn't properly make informed decisions, and all of its actions are entirely predetermined
That's the only AI we've ever developed. As you point out, it's completely incapable of doing anything original. It's called weak AI, as opposed to strong AI [wikipedia.org] , which exhibits general intelligence. Strong AI is strictly limited to science fiction at this point.

Programmed to play Pacman (1)

globaljustin (574257) | more than 6 years ago | (#22113072)

The summary was wrong, should read "AI programmed to play Pacman" I agree that AI is overhyped. Now we can debate the definition of "AI" for days but the fact is, this is simple programming. You tell the computer how to do something, and it does it (heh, i know it's not that simple, but the idea is that simple). AI is a fun topic. But ultimately the question of really defining Artificial intelligence is connected to how we define Human thought. In an abstract sense, humans are just programmable meat bags, controlled by what we sense from the environment and by 'hardwired' innate reactions. The bottom line is, computers will never do anything we don't tell them to do (implicitly or explicitly), and thus, AI will always be limited by human intelligence. ps...i know how funny part of that last line sounds 'computers will never do anything we don't tell them to' when taken in the context of a Blue Screen of Death or some such failure, but remember, a human (loose term) was responsible for the faulty program with the errors that cause the BSD, so my analogy still holds up

Re:"AI"s tend to be overhyped (1)

subStance (618153) | more than 6 years ago | (#22113320)

Agreed. The case study project used when I was studying neural nets as a noob was a tank game (teaching tanks how to collect pellets randomly distributed over a target area and not hit other tanks) had all the core elements described as being important in Ms Pac Man, and that was quite a while ago.

Methinks this is just a case of Ms Pac Man being used for recognizability to people who don't know the field. Certainly nothing groundbreaking.

Humans in no danger yet (1)

mandelbr0t (1015855) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111602)

Average score of only 8186 (vs. 8064 by humans). Nothing really amazing here; if the AI could soundly trounce the best humans on a regular basis I might be impressed, but I can consistently score above 10000, and I'm not very good. TFA also notes that humans make better decisions on scoring points, while the AI shows some survival ability. Sounds like they need a better Ms. Pacman program.

Re:Humans in no danger yet (2, Funny)

eyenot (102141) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111676)

Ah, but the scripts also managed to reach human-level average scores while discovering two things:

1. you don't necessarily gain anything luring ghosts...
2. or necessarily gain anything timing power pill consumption

Re:Humans in no danger yet (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 6 years ago | (#22113016)

Humans are not in danger until AI can make a site as awesome as the Pactionary [pactionary.com] .

gender-neutral pac-person (3, Funny)

waveformwafflehouse (1221950) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111748)

So now we're teaching our AI that it's a round, dot hungry trans-gender Miss-Man being chased by ghosts?

Baldur's Gate!? (1)

VPeric (1215606) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111756)

When the AI manages to play (and beat!) Baldur's Gate, I'll be seriously impressed. Pacman/Tetris simply aren't that exciting.

Re:Baldur's Gate!? (1)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112888)

I can imagine it will be able to kill kobolds, but i wonder how will it pick the right dialogue options :)

Oblig (4, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111782)

The most interesting development came when the machine suddenly stopped killing ghosts and simply displayed the message: "The only way to win is not to play!"

Re:Oblig (1)

notnAP (846325) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112136)

nah...

Much more interesting was the point a few minutes ago, when the researchers watched the AI somehow manage to change the game to Missile Command, at the same time that they noticed outside a massive rocket laun

Sweet. (1)

toppavak (943659) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111812)

Now we just need one that can play WoW for my friends so they can get their lives back!

Re:Sweet. (1)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112662)

It's called Glider. http://www.mmoglider.com/ [mmoglider.com] It's been around for a LOT longer than this Mrs. Pac man thing, as have many other game-playing bots.

One of these things is not like the other... (3, Insightful)

roystgnr (4015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111842)

The new AI game playing routines can handle Ms. Pacman, Tetris, and Baldur's Gate. Can their mathematics routines find sums of integers, roots of quadratics, and proofs of Fermat's Last Theorem?

Re:One of these things is not like the other... (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112024)

No, current AI does not exhibit general intelligence. That would be strong AI. We haven't developed it yet. The article is about weak AI, "the use of software to study or accomplish specific problem solving or reasoning tasks that do not encompass (or in some cases, are completely outside of) the full range of human cognitive abilities."

Re:One of these things is not like the other... (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112982)

> No, current AI does not exhibit general intelligence. That would be strong AI.

Whatever passes for "AI" would be better called Artificail Ignorance.

The "strong AI" you mentioned, I would call Artifical Intelligence and until Comp Sci and Biologists get a clue what consciousness is, we'll be forever stuck in the Artificial Ignorance mode.

Re:One of these things is not like the other... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22113230)

The new AI game playing routines can handle Ms. Pacman, Tetris, and Baldur's Gate. Can their mathematics routines find sums of integers, roots of quadratics, and proofs of Fermat's Last Theorem?
No, and neither can most people.

(Let's review: to start with, most people don't know what an integer is...)

Perfect Game? (2, Interesting)

Sangui (1128165) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111892)

I've never been a big Ms. Pac Man player, always preferred the original, but when there's an AI that can pull off a perfect game then I'll be impressed, like that guy who got a perfect score on Pac Man without losing a life in the 80's. When the AI can do that it's done something. Not breaking 10,000 points? Meh.

Re:Perfect Game? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22111928)

I've never been a big Ms. Pac Man player, always preferred the original, but when there's an AI that can pull off a perfect game then I'll be impressed, like that guy who got a perfect score on Pac Man without losing a life in the 80's. When the AI can do that it's done something. Not breaking 10,000 points? Meh.

Pac Man never ends. There's no such thing as a perfect score. You just get a buffer overrun.

Re:Perfect Game? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22111970)

How can one lose that which he doesn't have? ;-)

Re:Perfect Game? (2, Interesting)

greg1104 (461138) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112352)

The first perfect (meaning all the possible points were collected) game of Pac-Man wasn't until 1999 and was played by Billy Mitchell. It took him 17 years of playing to get that good. Here's some background [tripod.com] . That page has one of my favorite quotes about the ill effects of video games:

Imagine a world in which Billy Mitchell never encountered Pac-Man. Put to good use his sharp mind, excellent hand-eye coordination, incredibly long attention span and his prodigious talent for problem-solving probably would have led the world into a utopian technological society by now. The human genome would have been mapped by the mid eighties. World poverty would have been eliminated entirely. The air and the earth would be clean. We'd be living in an age of unprecedented peace. Serbs and Kosovars would be frolicking hand in hand cracking jokes about their ethnic differences. Billy Mitchell would have a girlfriend. Instead, Billy Mitchell played Pac-Man and grew a moustache.

If you're ever near Weirs Beach, New Hampshire, be sure to visit Funspot--great arcade.

I'm a pretty good Ms. Pac Man player, and I consider my game a failure if I don't get the maximum of 14600 points on the first board. If the best the AI could do is averaging 8186 points per game, I think we're still pretty far from Skynet taking over.

Re:Perfect Game? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22112442)

that guy who got a perfect score on Pac Man without losing a life

I don't think you can lose something you never had...

Re:Perfect Game? (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112450)

First of all, AI is in a rather basic stage compared to what we tend to expect from it. AI isn't going to be doing anything impressive any time soon, but that doesn't make progress less significant.

Second of all, getting a perfect score on Pac-Man without losing a life isn't that impressive to me, considering that by learning a handful of patterns you can play a perfect game (as long as you don't fuck up and mis-time a turn or something).

ghost routes (1)

Wescotte (732385) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111910)

I'd almost be more impressed if it could have learned the routes of the ghosts in Pac-Man vs learning to avoid random movements. AI in the Ms Pac-Man game just needs to run away while to succeed in Pac-Man you need to first realize there are planned routes and then learn them.

Other uses (2, Insightful)

TheSpengo (1148351) | more than 6 years ago | (#22111938)

This is cool, being able to choose smart moves against a random opponent could have a lot of uses in enemy AI in other games too. The unpredictability of a human opponent has always been an issue when creating realistic AI. It always kind of bugged me that even in new advanced games like Crysis, enemies will sometimes move in the most stupid ways possible. The next generation of FPS AI could use something similar to this.

Can the AI play Tic Tac Toe? (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112030)

Can the AI play Tic Tac Toe?

Re:Can the AI play Tic Tac Toe? (2, Funny)

mad_minstrel (943049) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112140)

But can it play Twister?

The difference between Pac-Man and Ms Pac-Man (1)

Kamineko (851857) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112044)

That's it? Get right out of town!

Re:The difference between Pac-Man and Ms Pac-Man (2, Informative)

blogan (84463) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112774)

Ms Pac-Man also has a bow.

The 1990s called, they want their aimbots back (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112060)

Honest to Jebus, I was writing Netrek bots in 1994 that used a genetic algorithm to self-guide their development, and you don't get more "random" than human opponents. When all those Quake bots hit the scene a couple of years later, it was already old hat as far as I was concerned, and now some Korean MMOs are almost entirely populated by robots. Are people really still getting grants for this?

Re:The 1990s called, they want their aimbots back (1)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112746)

some Korean MMOs are almost entirely populated by robots
Keep in mind that MMO "robots" (more typically called "bots"), are mostly automated scripts that utilize very specialized record-and-playback functionality combined with techniques for screen-analysis, such as recognizing the name of a piece of text used as a navigation marker. These bots exploit the predictive and repetitive nature of MMOs, such as the fact that a particular creature will always spawn in the same location, that a vendor will be in the same place all the time, that the same sequence of actions will consistently lead to the exact same outcome in combat, etc. A human player simply sets up a character in the game with the required equipment / spells, records the proper sequence of actions to defeat the creature, collect the loot, then travel back to town and sell loot to vendor.

While the bots' systems can be sophisticated in their own right, in no way are these bots exhibiting any sort of AI behavior. In that sense, what the Pac-Man AI is doing is much more interesting. Even in modern games, learning AIs are rarely used, except occasionally in initial training of opponents. I've written AI for several commercial games, and in general, it's much easier to simulate intelligence with simpler algorithms than to use true machine learning. BTW, creating a killer bot is really not all that hard. Computers have far better reflexes than people do. It's much harder to create a computer opponent that's entertaining to play against.

Meat Eating AI (1)

liak12345 (967676) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112068)

So we're now creating AIs that are learning how to eat things and we have that run on meat [cnn.com] .

Nope. I don't see any way how this could result in the destruction of the human race!

The key difference... (1)

MacarooMac (1222684) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112088)

... between the AI and humans tested playing the game appears to be (last para) that the humans were able to adapt their tactics.

E.g. They learned to lure ghosts close to Ms Pac-man so they would easuer to catch and eat once they became edible.

I'm sure this tactic could be programmed as a new rule and added to appropriate position on the AI's 'priority' list.
But until this 'cross-entropy' learning method (and any other AI learning technique for that) can truly teach the AI to adapt by itself - from it's own observations - then it's just not proper AI, imo.

Angband is more complex than Pacman (2, Interesting)

Old Wolf (56093) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112100)

...and we've had Angband Borg [phial.com] for some time (which is very impressive!)

Good Morning Professor Falkin (1)

ChainedFei (1054192) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112108)

Would you like to Play a game?

Re:Good Morning Professor Falkin (1)

KillerBob (217953) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112636)

I would like to play Global Nuclear War. :)

Re:Good Morning Professor Falkin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22113030)

Theater-wide biotoxin and chemical warfare, please.

("Global thermonuclear war" is so overdone; I'm bored of that one. It's like there's no point even in playing it.)

Skynet? (1)

RyogaHibiki (969138) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112146)

First Ms. Pac-Man... next Skynet.... I'd pull the plug if I were teaching the PC before it's too late.

Unfair (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22112192)

Oh, sure. These guys get praised for their great research, but when I teach my computer to play WoW I get banned!

And I always thought... (1)

leenoble_uk (698539) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112288)

...that the only difference was that Ms Pac Man had a bow in her hair.

One of these things just doesn't belong! (1)

Eightyford (893696) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112298)

Tetris, Ms. Pac-Man, and Baldur's Gate... One of these things just doesn't belong!

Koza? (1)

lalena (1221394) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112366)

Thought John Koza had Genetic Programs playing pac man over 15 years ago.

xscreensaver (1)

gringer (252588) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112878)

There is an xscreensaver hack [jwz.org] that is a pacman game with various level styles. I suspect that the monsters in that are a bit more random in their movement. However, the monsters move slower than pacman, and the pacman currently seems rather stupid, running towards monsters, and just collecting air when there's still plenty of pills to pick up. It would be nice to work on the AI in that, then I'd get a more interesting screensaver to watch.

still some time to keep up to Go (weiqi) (1)

Sem_D_D (175107) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112906)

I'd really like to see these guy's algorithms in the game of Go (wei-qi).
Or imagine one day being able to get some machine learning from Guo Juan http://www.guojuangoschool.com/ [guojuangoschool.com] - she's pretty nice and (still) understandable high-dan player.
Recently some Chinese professor that participated in the Deep Blue's victory over Gary said with the help of M$ research money he's inking closer on the brute-force approach in Go next http://www.spectrum.ieee.org/oct07/5552 [ieee.org] . But it is still a steep curve. The chinese chess projections point to a breakthrough in the next 2-3 years and it is still a couple of exponents simpler than Go.
So, way to go, Ms.Pac-Man :-)

Ms PacMan is most definitely deterministic (1)

howard_coward (735813) | more than 6 years ago | (#22112956)

The authors state "In most of Pac-Man's sequels, most notably in Ms. Pac-Man, randomness was added to the movement of the ghosts." Anyone who has played MsPacman fully understands that while there is __some__ random behavior, the ghosts are most definitely deterministic. The aggressive red guy (Blinky) is very very different from the passive yellow guy (Clyde). Knowing this is necessary to play the game in an intelligent manner, if you can imagine such a thing. You can always go to MameWorld, get the 6502 source code and see for yourself!

Re:Ms PacMan is most definitely deterministic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22113074)

> You can always go to MameWorld, get the 6502 source code and see for yourself!

Someone ported the Z80 original to 6502?

Greetings, Professor Falken (1)

StarReaver (1070668) | more than 6 years ago | (#22113038)

How about a nice game of Ms. Pac-Man?

How about Global Thermonuclear War? (1)

paintballer1087 (910920) | more than 6 years ago | (#22113056)

Shall we play a game?

Love to, how about Global Thermonuclear War?

Wouldn't you prefer a nice game of Chess?

What about tool assisted speed runs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22113316)

People have been using similar things for years to find the most optimal routes for speed runs. These scripts are known as "TASbots" and are used on all sorts of games, mostly 2D platformers.

If you're interested you can check out a bunch of videos made with the help of these tools here [tasvideos.org] .

fp wgoat (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22113418)

and some of the Get how people can argued by Eric the wind apeared ofone single puny
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