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In-the-Know: Artificial Gamer

Released in 2021, Artificial Gamer follows in the footsteps of AlphaGo, a documentary that leads up to The DeepMind Challenge Match where the world watched as a legendary Go master Lee Sedol took on an unproven AI challenger for the first time in history. With more board configurations than there are atoms in the universe, the ancient Chinese game of Go has long been considered a grand challenge for artificial intelligence. The film also has one of my favorite scenes of all time when Lee does the “god move” which the computer gave him a 1 in 100M chance of choosing, and when asked about it, his reply was that it was the only move he saw! But I digress…

Enter DOTA, an even bigger challenge for A.I. to overcome than Go. Artificial Gamer is a documentary that follows a passionate team of engineers from the company OpenAI who are challenged to develop artificial intelligence capable of defeating the World Champions of DOTA 2, a video game more complex than anything attempted by A.I. in the past — and given only one year to do it.

Millions of dollars are on the line on top of human emotions and ego against a machine that’s designed to do simply do its job: win. The film is as entertaining as it is a fascinating glimpse into the thinking of the people who work at OpenAI.

Glimpse into the People at OpenAI

When this film was released, it was before OpenAI exploded into the spotlight when ChatGPT catapulted into the mainstream with the fastest user adoption ever seen, surpassing 100 million users within two months.

We see how the OpenAI President and Co-Founder Greg Brockman and his team of engineers think about artificial intelligence through the lens of gaming as a benchmark of what’s possible. It’s important to know who the people are who are working on this extremely disruptive technology and we see for this project, there’s a lot of trial and error. We also see that the team is made up of people like you and me.

What’s also interesting in the film is how the teams who play against the A.I. improved their game exponentially, which is similar to how Creativity Squared guest Harry Yeff discusses how A.I. serves as mentors, collaborators, and opponents which has helped him improve his craft too.

A.I. vs eSport DOTA 2

At the 2017 annual eSports world championship, “The International,” an Artificial Intelligence agent was unveiled that could play against some of the world’s best players at DOTA 2, a popular online game considered one of the most complex video games ever. While this demonstration was based on a 1 vs 1 version of what is normally a 5 vs 5 game, and play was limited to a reduced section of the map, it was a major coup. After the demonstration, and to the surprise of both the gaming and artificial intelligence communities; the developers fueled by the excitement of the win announced to the crowd that they will be back the following year with a new A.I. that can play the full 5 vs 5 game. ARTIFICIAL GAMER follows the journey of the scientists and engineers at OpenAI, as they develop their artificial agent. During their quest, they face the unique challenges of building one of the largest and most complex A.I. systems in history, in only one year.

Harvard Free Screening

The video embed is from a free screening of Artificial Gamer that live-streamed on Saturday, February 12, 2022, by CS50 at Harvard University. In includes an introduction and Q&A at the end for extra context if you’re interested in watching that. The film begins at 20:10.

We’re certainly fascinated by this inside look into OpenAI. What about you?