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An AI just set the Pac-Man high score, breaking hearts everywhere

An AI just set the Pac-Man high score, breaking hearts everywhere

Researchers working under the Microsoft banner have created a new AI that just did something no human has even come close to doing – it set the Atari 2600 Pac-Man high score. And it didn’t just kind of beat it, the AI demolished it and broke the game.

Somewhere, Billy Mitchell is about to live through a training montage as the call to defend the human species has gone out and he prepares to retake the record for organics everywhere. Unfortunately, this one might even be a bit beyond him.

The AI, designed by the Canadian deep learning start-up Maluuba which was recently acquired by Microsoft, scored a perfect 999,990 on the Atari version of the classic game, reaching the end and forcing it to restart. No one has ever done that before, not even close. Mitchell became semi-famous for being the first person to record a perfect score of 3,333,360 on the original Pac-Man arcade game in July 1999, but according to highscore.com, the highest known score for the Atari version belongs to an unnamed Brazilian player and stands at 266,330.

More and more AI are being tasked with mastering games in order to prove their capabilities, and possibly to break the spirits of their fleshy meatbag gods. One day it may strike us down, but first it will beat our high scores! Or something.

The AI was able to accomplish its task of crushing Pac-Man by using a process known as reinforcement learning. In this style of neural learning, the AI receives positive or negative reinforcement based on its choices, and it uses trial and error to succeed.

The hope/fear is that eventually, reinforcement learning will help to create AI that can make their own decisions based on the reinforcement it has received from its past choices. Once that is a reality, the AI could then be used to help humans make decisions by weighing options and presenting the best choice to its overlord.

Check out the video below for a closer look, and fear the day AI comes for you in Call of Duty. Oh, the curse words we shall hear from its victims…

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Founder and DBP boss. Ryan likes the Kansas Jayhawks, long walks on the beach, and high fiving unsuspecting people.