Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) computer scientists are developing an artificial intelligence platform called Project AIX, which is based on Minecraft.

Academic researchers can already make use of it under a private beta. Later in summer, It will be available for everyone as an open-source platform.

Researchers want to develop artificial intelligence (AI) systems that learn how to accomplish tasks in a human way, instead of programming them to make specific things. The project employs AIX platform, which allows developers to use the world of Minecraft as a testing laboratory for AI.

Image: Xbox One Store
Image: Xbox One Store

Minecraft, which has already been acquired by more than 22 million people in its PC version, is a great video game for AI developers who want to try new ideas, since it allows players to do almost everything they want to do, including complex tasks like building a structure alongside teammates. Katja Hofmann, Microsoft’s developer from Cambridge, describes it as a very open world.

“You can do survival mode, you can do ‘build battles’ with your friends, you can do courses, you can implement our own games. This is really exciting for artificial intelligence because it allows us to create games that stretch beyond current abilities,” said Ms. Hofmann in a blog post published by Microsoft on Sunday.

“From doing to learning”

Artificial intelligence is already able to achieve complicated tasks such as translating speeches that have been previously recognized. However, computer scientists want to take AI to a new level, by teaching it how to learn things and make decisions based on the available resources, just like a human would do.

The things that are appear to be very simple for humans are actually very difficult for artificial intelligence, explained Robert Schapire, researcher at Microsoft and member of the AIX team at New York. Currently, AI can build tools that do one thing. It would be ideal if it is able to combine several abilities and resources like humans.

One of the main obstacles for AI developers is the lack of resources to test their systems, as it can be very expensive. Hofmann said that its hard to test theoretical research in practice. As a result, the team is motivated to build a platform based on Minecraft, which does not depends on search engines to work in a predictable way, said Allison Linn, a senior writer at Microsoft.

The company led by Satya Nadella said that it wants to provide researchers a great opportunity for accelerating artificial intelligence innovation. The platform works on Windows, Linux and Mac OS, and researchers can program agents in any programming language.

Source: Microsoft Blog