Do you have what it takes to beat an artificial intelligence (A.I.) construct at its own game? Now’s your chance: OpenAI, the sorta-non-profit devoted to creating “safe” A.I., is opening up registrations to challenge OpenAI Five, its platform that can play the online game “Dota 2.”
OpenAI is already capable of competing against (and beating) some of the best human players of “Dota 2,” so if you can’t play the game on that level, chances are pretty good that it will vaporize you in the name of perfecting A.I.
For those who’ve never played the game, it’s an arena battler that tasks players with defending portions of a map while launching raids into the enemy’s territory. In other words, there are multiple variables to juggle during every game, resulting in complexity that makes it an ideal test-bed for artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Valve, which created “Dota 2,” has boasted in the past that the game is very good at “competitive balance,” which in theory gives no player an outsized competitive advantage. OpenAI likes the game because (in its words) it reflects “the messiness and continuous nature of the real world, such as teamwork, long time horizons, and hidden information.” Right now, the goal is to teach A.I. algorithms to think more in the “long term,” rather than making immediate decisions based on current information—a degree of abstract thinking that a healthy portion of humans have innately mastered.
Of course, A.I. potentially threatens more than just game players: Last year, a report from analyst firm Forrester suggested that automation could murder some 10 percent of U.S. jobs this year. As A.I. is used to improve platforms such as chatbots and robotics, companies’ processes inevitably become more streamlined—the customer-service department that needed 100 flesh-and-blood call center specialists suddenly needs only 20, because an automated platform is capable of taking an increased number of calls (just as one example).
Like Forrester, the World Economic Forum believes that employers will gradually re-train workers for the next iteration of the professional world. “While nearly 50 percent of all companies expect their full-time workforce to shrink by 2022 as a result of automation,” the organization added in a note accompanying its data, “almost 40 percent expect to extend their workforce generally and more than a quarter expect automation to create new roles in their enterprise.”
In other words, A.I. is going to have a seismic effect on everything from video games to warehouse operations. How fast that will happen, though, is an open question. In the meantime, if you’re interested in seeing how effectively an A.I. platform can dismantle your game-playing skills, register for OpenAI’s latest competition.