Why this new videogame AI is so incredibly controversial

A competition pitting artificial intelligence (AI) against human players in the classic video game DOOM has demonstrated just how advanced AI learning techniques have become – but it’s also caused considerable controversy, reports Science alert.

The competition focused on how well contestant-built AI could navigate the arenas and kill human players.

While there were several teams competing, two students in the US caught most of the flak after they published a paper online detailing how their AI bot learned to kill human players in deathmatch scenarios.

This was due to their use of deep learning AI techniques to train the robot – by playing the game repetitively, the AI (nicknamed “Arnold”) learned player and fellow AI patterns in order to continuously better itself.

Why’s this an issue?

“The danger here isn’t that an AI will kill random characters in 23-year-old first-person shooter games, but because it is designed to navigate the world as humans do, it can easily be ported,” writes Scott Eric Kaufman at Salon.

“Given that it was trained via deep reinforcement learning which rewarded it for killing more people, the fear is that if ported into the real world, it wouldn’t be satisfied with a single kill, and that its appetite for death would only increase as time went on.”

While there is no immediate danger of a rogue AI escaping to the streets, it’s not impossible that these techniques could be militarised and used in the near future.

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Why this new videogame AI is so incredibly controversial

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