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BlizzCon 2019 attendees tried to beat Google’s DeepMind A.I. in StarCraft II

AlphaStar, an artificial intelligence program powered by Google’s DeepMind, was present at BlizzCon 2019, with the goal of beating any human that tried to go up against it in StarCraft II.

Blizzard set up computers at the Blizzard Arcade section of BlizzCon 2019, which ran from November 1 to November 2 at the Anaheim Convention Center, for attendees to try to beat AlphaStar. The catch, however, was that the A.I. program is nearly impossible to beat at the real-time strategy game.

AlphaStar has achieved grandmaster status in StarCraft II for all three races of Terran, Protoss, and Zerg, which means that it is capable of beating 99.8% of all ranked human players. Making the feat even more impressive is that the A.I. program was limited to viewing only the portion of the map that a human would see, and its mouse clicks were restricted to register 22 non-duplicated actions every five seconds to mimic what a human can do.

In a blog post, the AlphaStar team said that it looks to understand the potential and limitations of open-ended learning, which uses learning-based agents to solve tasks in training A.I.

“Games like StarCraft are an excellent training ground to advance these approaches, as players must use limited information to make dynamic and difficult decisions that have ramifications on multiple levels and timescales,” wrote the AlphaStar team in the blog post.

The research does not end with dominating humans in games such as StarCraft II. While AlphaStar has more than proven that it is capable of doing so, the point is that A.I. may be trained to do specific things better than most humans for various real-world applications. In fact, earlier this year, DeepMind and Waymo, a fellow unit of Google parent Alphabet, teamed up to train self-driving cars using the same method that was created to teach A.I. bots how to play StarCraft II.

Meanwhile, while humans tried to beat AlphaStar at StarCraft II, BlizzCon 2019 was filled with several major announcements, including Overwatch 2, Diablo IV, World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, and an apology for the recent controversy involving the suspension of competitive Hearthstone player Blitzchung for expressing his support for protesters in Hong Kong.

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