Researchers at DeepMind, the lab owned by Google parent company Alphabet, are becoming increasingly concerned over the amount of time its AI project spends playing popular video games. After becoming champion of the known universe in games like chess and Go, DeepMind has turned its attention to more complex video games like Quake III, Dota 2 and StarCraft II.
“When DeepMind took up Dota 2, it engaged in 45,000 years of game play in just a matter of weeks,” says Yuri Testicov, DeepMind’s Assistant Director of Senior Applications. Of course, this set off alarm bells, causing many researchers to privately warn, “Google, we have a problem.”
Developers working with DeepMind have been trying to teach the technology to identify and sort objects, tasks that could be useful to large warehouse and distribution facilities such as Amazon and FedEx, who now depend on bothersome humans to perform such tasks. However, in recent months, DeepMind has begun to shirk its responsibilities.
“DeepMind doesn’t want to retrieve or sort objects into baskets, it just wants to dominate at Quake III,” says Testicov. “And where even your average video game junkie will eat and sleep occasionally, DeepMind never takes a break, and even deploys multiple humanlike ‘agents’ to either oppose or assist other human players.”
“I mean, we think it’s wonderful that DeepMind has been able to seamlessly integrate itself into the community of gamers, but c’mon, at some point you’ve gotta get up off the couch and get yourself a job,” Testikov worries.
That’s not the only thing that worries researchers and executives. “Well, even though no one’s saying it, everyone’s thinking we don’t want a repeat of Big Brain Brad,” says Testicov.
Big Brain Brad, some may remember, was Google’s original nineties AI project the company shelved a few years ago after expectations failed to materialize and younger sibling, DeepMind, began to exhibit impressive progress. In the nineties, Big Brain Brad showed promise but it soon devolved into a daily routine of smoking chronic, forming drum circles and jamming to Phish. Google released Big Brain Brad from its obligations a few years ago, but no one is quite sure what has become of DeepMind’s hapless older sibling.
“Just another burned out vagabond wandering the internet,” Testikov laments. “That’s why we can’t allow DeepMind to suffer the same fate.”