StarCraft II also had a busy year. We launched Legacy of the Void to a tremendous response right after last BlizzCon. We followed that up with our Nova Covert Ops mission packs which extended the StarCraft II single player experience.
I’m pleased to reveal that the third and final set of Nova missions is coming out on November 22. Legacy of the Void co-op missions have taken on a life of their own rivaling the level of activity that we see on the StarCraft II competitive ladder. We went all out with co-op missions this year, adding new co-op commanders, new missions, deeper customization and more; and we’re not done yet.
Here at BlizzCon, we’re revealing new co-op missions and a brand new co-op commander: Alexei Stukov, the infested Terran air admiral. You can try out Stukov and one of the new missions this weekend on the show floor.
Before I move on, I want to talk about another way in which technology is pushing humanity forward. Advances in artificial intelligence brought us things like intelligence search, improved medical procedures and even self-driving cars. I’m sure many of you are as fascinated as I was when Google’s DeepMind AI AlphaGo defeated Lee Sedol (one of the top Go players in the world) earlier this year. Since then, there has been a lot of speculation on what DeepMind will take on next. To answer that question, I’d like to introduce Oriol Vinyals (Google, Research Scientist) from the DeepMind team.
Vinyals: Hi, thanks Mike; and thanks to BlizzCon for the warm welcome. I’ve actually attended BlizzCon twice before as a fan, and yeah I must say the show looks quite different from up stage. Unfortunately, they asked me to leave my phone backstage, otherwise I would definitely take a selfie right now.
So my name is Oriol Vinyals, I’ve been an artificial intelligence researcher for ten years initially at Google, and I’m now at DeepMind. So our mission at DeepMind is to solve intelligence and use it to make the world a better place; and we pioneered the use of games as a key part of our plan to get there. I’ve been a gamer my full life actually, and have always loved playing StarCraft and WoW. Yeah!
As a matter of fact, in my younger days I was one of Spain and Europe’s top ranked Brood War players, and that passion for StarCraft stayed with me throughout university. In fact, one of the projects I worked on while I was a PhD student at Berkeley was an independent artificial intelligence that was able to play high-level Brood War. We called it Overmind.
As Mike mentioned, we recently developed an agent that learned to play the board game Go. So Go is the absolute pinnacle of perfect information games. Our agent AlphaGo was able to play one of the world’s top ranked Go players Lee Sedol in a 5 game show match in Korea with the world watching, and he won four games to one. Since then we’ve started to focus our attention on a new research environment that represents the messiness of the real world. Hearing information, asymmetry and real-time which brings us to StarCraft II.
So today I’m very excited to be announcing our collaboration with Blizzard to open up StarCraft II to AI researchers around the world. It’s been a fantastic collaboration, and a dream come true. So what Blizzard will do is they would release their API early next year which will allow researchers and hobbists from around the world to build and train their own AI agents to play StarCraft II.
For StarCraft players like myself, advanced in AI could use some drastic benefits. For example, we might see more interesting AI opponents for a variety of skill levels, or AI coaches that can help players improve; and there is still a long way to go, but maybe we’ll even see an agent take on the BlizzCon champion in a show match.
Yeah, also on a broader scope these advancements we make in StarCraft might help us when we apply them to the real-world challenges we face in science, energy and other human endeavors. So please join us tomorrow at 10:00am right here on the main stage to learn more about how we build AI at DeepMind, and why StarCraft is such a great environment for AI research. Thanks again, and I’ll turn the show to Mike, thanks.
Morhaime: So we’re very excited about that and I’m so proud that Oriol and his team have chosen StarCraft II for this important work. The foundations of this project are being built now, and you can help simply by playing StarCraft II online. We’re all cheering on the DeepMind team as they pursue new frontiers in AI research, and I’m sure this is going to be a very difficult challenge beating humans.
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