Google has followed the OpenAI initiative in launching a learning platform for artificial intelligence, created by AI-centric subsidiary DeepMind.
Google's DeepMind, acquired back in 2014 in a deal valued at £400 million, has been leading the company's considerable efforts in machine learning and artificial intelligence. Its most famous success came with the development of the world's first champion-level Go AI
, which beat the world's greatest human player
at a notoriously challenging game boasting significantly more possible moves than chess. DeepMind has also been behind a partnership with the NHS to analyse eye-scan data
for early signs of macular degeneration more quickly and more accurately than human experts.
Now, Google's DeepMind is releasing its Lab platform under a permissive licence for others to use. Similar in concept to OpenAI's Universe platform
, DeepMind Lab takes the form of a three-dimensional game-like platform with a first-person viewpoint in which artificially intelligent agents are able to move, interact, and learn.
'Artificial general intelligence research in DeepMind Lab emphasises navigation, memory, 3D vision from a first person viewpoint, motor control, planning, strategy, time, and fully autonomous agents that must learn for themselves what tasks to perform by exploring their environment,
' the company explained in its release announcement
. 'All these factors make learning difficult. Each are considered frontier research questions in their own right. Putting them all together in one platform, as we have, represents a significant new challenge for the field.
DeepMind believes that teaching AI in a 'realistic' game-like environment may also be useful for the development of true general-purpose intelligence. 'As well as facilitating agent evaluation, there are compelling reasons to think that it may be fundamentally easier to develop intelligence in a 3D world, observed from a first-person viewpoint, like DeepMind Lab,
' the company claimed. 'After all, the only known examples of general-purpose intelligence in the natural world arose from a combination of evolution, development, and learning, grounded in physics and the sensory apparatus of animals. It is possible that a large fraction of animal and human intelligence is a direct consequence of the richness of our environment, and unlikely to arise without it. Consider the alternative: if you or I had grown up in a world that looked like Space Invaders or Pac-Man, it doesn’t seem likely we would have achieved much general intelligence,
' DeepMind's spokespeople added, in an apparent dig at the approach chosen by OpenAI of using off-the-shelf game software.
The company has published a paper on DeepMind Lab
(PDF warning), while the software itself can be found on the official GitHub repository