Microsoft Uses AI to Beat Ms. Pac-Man

Microsoft researchers have developed an artificial intelligence-based system that discovered how to achieve the maximum possible score on the 1980s arcade game classic Ms. Pac-Man.

This may sound trivial. But the firm says that this method could have broad implications for teaching AI agents to do complex tasks that augment human capabilities. And as it turns out, Ms. Pac-Man is apparently among the most difficult of video games to beat.

The researchers come from a Canadian company called Maluuba that Microsoft acquired earlier this year. They set out to use AI to beat the Atari 2600 version of Ms. Pac-Man, which allows a maximum possible score of 999,999. Why? Because the problem requires the AI to break the game solution down into small pieces and then assemble them in the correct order at the correct time. And this process is very similar to how the human brain is thought to work.

As it turns out, Ms. Pac-Man is particularly well-designed for this work. It was intentionally designed to be less predictable than its Pac-Man predecessor, so each game is different, and random.

Their solution is called the Hybrid Reward Architecture, and it utilizes over 150 individual agents that work in tandem to master the game. A “top agent” assembles suggestions from the others and decides where to move the on-screen character as the game progressed.

The researchers expect to channel this work into other AI research such as natural language processing. But maybe they could think about tackling Galaga first.

But seriously, you can learn more about this work on the Microsoft website. It’s interesting stuff.


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Conversation 11 comments

  • Chris_Kez

    Premium Member
    14 June, 2017 - 11:30 am

    <p>I'm sure this is a huge achievement, but on the face of it it seems less groundbreaking than Google's AlphaGo beating the world's best human Go player. </p>

    • Freezal

      Premium Member
      14 June, 2017 - 12:58 pm

      <blockquote><a href="#125518"><em>In reply to Chris_Kez:</em></a></blockquote><p>Why? Because an A.I. beat the worlds best Human Mrs. Pac-Man player. So you are saying Go is more noble and worthwhile than Mrs. Pac-Man?</p>

      • Chris_Kez

        Premium Member
        14 June, 2017 - 2:10 pm

        <blockquote><a href="#125567"><em>In reply to Freezal:</em></a></blockquote><p>Because I think Go is more complex and challenging.</p>

  • bbold

    14 June, 2017 - 12:10 pm

    <p>Argh. They beat my all time record score :/ haha</p>

  • quick_razor360

    14 June, 2017 - 1:26 pm

    <p>I think the AI being developed in the Space MMO/SIM StarCitizen has got way better AI and they are using Big Data too…</p>

  • Jules Wombat

    14 June, 2017 - 1:32 pm

    <p>Only two years after DeepMind pioneered the use of Reinforcement learning to beat Atari games. </p>

  • Waethorn

    14 June, 2017 - 3:38 pm

    <p>I don't remember: do ghosts in the arcade version of Ms. Pac Man reverse course on a dime, or is it all just linear forward paths?</p>

  • JC

    14 June, 2017 - 3:48 pm

    <p>I wonder where they got there idea from!!! Lionhead Studios and Microsoft… <em>Black &amp; White</em> (video game)</p><p><br></p>

  • sharpsone

    14 June, 2017 - 6:47 pm

    <p>I read stuff like this and think Hmmm… When will unemployment reach 50%? Maybe we'll find out in 10-20 years.</p>

    • fbman

      15 June, 2017 - 1:06 am

      <blockquote>Live in South Africa, we already approaching that.. </blockquote><blockquote><a href="#125716"><em>In reply to sharpsone:</em></a></blockquote><p><br></p>

  • dcdevito

    14 June, 2017 - 10:48 pm

    <p>Microsoft: "hey guys we have AI too!"</p>


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