Pentagon likely drooling over Age of Empires 4 launch

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Microsoft, a company with many military contracts, has brazenly admitted its intention to train an artificial intelligence agent to become “unbeatable” by humans in war simulations.

Feel free to go mad in a runaway panic at your discretion, but I should clarify that this is for a video game.

Of course, that doesn’t really make it any less scary.

In the front: an upcoming real-time strategy game titled Age of Empires 4 is slated for release on Xbox Game Pass in late October. It is developed by Relic and published by Xbox Game Studios.

Alex Walker from Kotaku recently interviewed Microsoft Studios Creative Director Adam Isgreen to discuss the game’s AI. According to Walker’s article:

Age 4 was already using machine learning to train their AI, but after the game launched in October, the developers will likely add this more difficult difficulty mode that will learn continuously regardless of the current meta. “We are currently using machine learning to train AI, but we want to go even further.

Later, not at launch, we’ll probably be looking to have a ruthless AI that keeps learning as people play against it, to the point where it’s unbeatable, ”Isgreen said. “But we’re okay with that, because if you go for that difficulty, if you want to choose to make the AI ​​better to fight, go for it.”

Background: Isgreen is careful to point out that Four years uses “machine learning” to train its “AI”. In this case, they mean they are using machine learning to train the game’s computer opponent.

If you’ve never played any of the Age of empires games, they are much like boardless board games that you can play with other people or against a simulated opponent controlled by the logic of the game.

What’s interesting here: we have to trace a few threads, and eventually it might sound like a conspiracy theory, but it might have some real implications for military AI.

Microsoft has several military AI contracts, but the competition remains tough. Amazon is able to bid on just about anything it can, and Google is bound to get back into the fight as soon as it can get everything. his papers in order.

Each of these companies has billions of dollars, state-of-the-art equipment, and labs filled with the brightest minds and the most talented developers on the planet. And, no doubt, that makes it difficult to choose between them.

The launch of Age of Empires 4 could mean the rumblings of a new era that is slowly tipping the scales in Microsoft’s favor.

Let’s look at it from an AI researcher’s perspective to understand how.

Say you are trying to teach an urban combat robot how to sweep and clean a block. You will likely run millions of iterations in a simulated environment. And then, once you were sure your model could handle the basics, you would probably start training her against experts.

[Related: Oh great, now scientists are teaching AI how to evade pursuit]

Sadly, the vast majority of human fighters throughout history have been neither machines nor experts in warfare. They are ordinary people. And there is incredible value in being able to train a model of AI warfare against the machinations of ordinary people – as long as you can do it on a scale large enough to matter.

And, despite the best efforts of Google and Amazon, Microsoft is the only major tech company vying for military AI projects that may, at least hypothetically, offer the potential to test combat AI in environments of. simulated war against tens of millions of humans who ‘I’ll pay for the privilege.

Quick setting: we are not saying that Microsoft actually uses Age of empires4 to test military AI. But it is certainly an interesting test of the concept.

There is nothing to our knowledge, legally speaking, that would prevent Microsoft from sharing data between divisions.

The question is whether it would be ethical to offer gamers the option of opting for a paradigm whereby their gaming data could be exploited for military purposes?

On the one hand, researchers dream of a paradigm where they could tap into millions of humans to help them test AI. Imagine if we could find a way to turn Madden, Halo, GTA or Minecraft gameplay in a pipeline to advance AI.

The implications would be like imagining the current state of AI research as a faucet with a drip, then imagining it as a fire hose fully opened.

But, on the other hand: do gamers really want to play such an important role in the development of the Pentagon war machine?

We may never have to answer such questions. There is no real reason to believe that Microsoft is secretly considering using Xbox Game Pass as a training ground for advanced military AI.

But, honest question: is there any real reason to believe that this is not the case?

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