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Computer Reads Manual, Plays Civ

We can no longer hide our secrets from the machines by writing them in books.

MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab report that they have boosted the effectiveness of a game-playing AI by enabling it to read the manual: “When the researchers augmented a machine-learning system so that it could use a player’s manual to guide the development of a game-playing strategy, its rate of victory jumped from 46 percent to 79 percent.”

What’s most amazing about this is that despite the trial and error nature of this kind of machine learning, the ability to correlate text instructions with events in the game do seem to have a significant impact on the system’s capacity to learn how to play, as the article explains: “The researchers also tested a more-sophisticated machine-learning algorithm that eschewed textual input but used additional techniques to improve its performance. Even that algorithm won only 62 percent of its games.” So, you know, RTFM is sound advice, even if you are a machine.

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Jim Rossignol

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