Scientists need you to play classic Atari games, teach their AI new tricks

ai learns new skills atari cartridges
Learning valuable skills by playing video games sounds suspiciously like the kind of feeble excuse we used as teenagers to explain why we were playing GoldenEye 007 instead of doing our homework. But in the case of a new AI project carried out by computer scientists at RWTH Aachen University in Germany and Microsoft Research, it turns out to be absolutely true.

“What we’ve developed is a way to collect data of humans playing five Atari games, a large dataset of humans playing them, and the insight that — with current algorithms — less data of better players seems to be more useful for learning than more data of worse players,” Lucas Beyer, a researcher on the project, told Digital Trends. “This might sound obvious, but really it’s not: The common theme being ‘the more data the better.’”

There has been interesting work done before involving AI and classic Atari 2600 games. For example, a couple of years ago, an artificial agent created by the Google-owned DeepMind was able to learn to play games like Breakout without a human showing it how to. As Beyer notes, in the case of his and his colleagues’ work, humans are involved — since the bots are watching human players play through the games Q*Bert, Ms. Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Video Pinball, and Montezuma’s Revenge.

This playthrough data was gathered from Redditors, who turned out to be more than happy to revisit some vintage arcade games — all in the interests of improving AI. What is impressive about the work, however, is that the AI was able to learn new skills, such as problem solving, by extracting patterns from the human-led playthroughs it analyzed.

“This dataset is an open testbed for developing reinforcement learning algorithms that can get a head start by looking at human demonstration, as opposed to learning everything from scratch,” Beyer continued.

Next up, the team wants to build on their system — by adding data from more expert Atari players. And did we mention the best part? They want you (yes, you!) to help them.

“It would be cool if you can ask people to play games on our website and add more data as a result,” Vitaly Kurin, another researcher on the project, told us.

Now how’s that for the homework you always dreamed of?

Computing

It took Dell years to fix 1 problem on its best laptop. Here’s how it did it

The new Dell XPS 13 moves the webcam from the below the screen to the top, finally vanquishing the one obstacle facing thin, sleek laptop displays. We have the exclusive story on how it was done.
Product Review

‘Resident Evil 2' is a terrifying new virus you'll want to catch

Resident Evil 2 brings the Raccoon City incident to a new generation of players, acting both as a nostalgic throwback and a thoroughly modern horror game with some of the best visuals of the generation.
Gaming

These are the best indie games you can get on PC right now

Though many indie games now come to consoles as well, there's still a much larger selection on PC. With that in mind, we've created a list of the best indie games for PC, with an emphasis on games that are only available on PC.
Gaming

Want to trick out your PlayStation 4? These themes will get you started

Personalize your gaming experience with some of our favorite themes for the PlayStation 4, including free, paid, static, and dynamic options.
Gaming

Here are all the awesome games you can play without a fancy graphics card

Just because you don't have a dedicated graphics card, it doesn't mean you can't enjoy some of the best games out there right now. This is our list of the best games you can play on Intel integrated graphics.
Product Review

The Digital Storm Aventum X is an unstoppable gaming PC. Trust us, we tried

Packed with dual-Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti graphics card and a 9th-generation Intel Core i9 processor, the Aventum X is an infinitely upgradeable gaming PC that’s capable of far more performance than you’ll ever need.
Computing

‘Flexgate’ is the latest controversy plaguing some MacBook Pro owners

iFixit recently uncovered a new "Flexgate" issue with MacBook Pros after some consumers reported a "stage light" effect, where the backlighting on the device would fail and cause the bottom of the display to become slightly distorted.
Computing

Breeze through security with these checkpoint-friendly laptop bags

Getting through airport security is a drag, but your laptop bag shouldn’t be. Thankfully, these checkpoint-friendly laptop bags will get you and your gear to your destination with ease.
Computing

Ditch the backdrop from your photos with these handy tools

Need to know how to remove the background from an image? Here's how, whether you prefer to use a premium program like Photoshop or one of the many web-based alternatives currently in existence.
Computing

Think someone's leeching off your Wi-Fi connection? Here's how to find out

It's important to find out immediately if anyone is stealing your bandwidth. Here's how to tell if someone is stealing your Wi-Fi using a few simple tools, along with some suggestions on improving security.
Computing

Open RAR files with the greatest of ease using these awesome applications

Few things are more bothersome than not being able to open a file when you need it most. Check out our quick guide about how to open RAR files in Windows and MacOS. We will walk you through the process, step by step.
Web

Google Chrome’s latest decision could prevent most ad-blockers from functioning

Google Chrome's newest change is cited as a step forward for speed and security, but could profoundly alter how the majority of ad-blocking extensions operate. The move potentially gives Google more control over which ads can be blocked.
Computing

Samsung permits peek at an eye-popping, 15-inch 4K OLED laptop display

Samsung is now preparing for the new OLED laptop trend and is providing a look at an eye-popping 15.6-inch 4K OLED panel that is expected to power larger premium laptops in the new year.
Music

Here's our head-to-head comparison of Pandora and Spotify

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.