Microsoft researchers have developed a new AI platform,Project Malmo, that lets computer scientists use the world of Minecraft as a testing ground for conducting AI research on their systems. While computer scientists have been conducting research into AI for decades, researchers are usually limited by not having practical and inexpensive ways to test their systems. Building an actual robot and testing its design can be expensive. Minecraft can be an inexpensive alternative, allowing researchers to build and test virtual robots. Project Malmo (formally known as Project AIX) dramatically reduces the cost of doing AI research by letting designers and researchers use the world of Minecraft as a virtual test bed.
The Minecraft platform is also appealing because it lets researchers simulate complex decisions while also adding difficulty elements as designs improve. It also allows groups to collaborate from remote locations, which helps researchers understand and experiment on how their designs can work better together in different environments and with different users.
Can we develop artificial intelligence that learns to make sense of complex environments? That learn from others, including humans, how to interact with the world? That learn transferable skills throughout their existence, and apply them to solve new, challenging problems? Project Malmo sets out to address these core challenges of artificial intelligence research. We address them by integrating (deep) reinforcement learning, cognitive science, and many ideas from artificial intelligence.
Core of our research is the Malmo Platform – a sophisticated AI experimentation platform built on top of the popular computer game Minecraft, and designed to support fundamental research in artificial intelligence. The Malmo Platform is currently in private beta, and will soon be released as open source to the research community. Stay tuned!