A Human Thrashed Three AI Bots at Starcraft

Researchers pitted homo sapiens against AI to see who would emerge the winner.

Dec 2 2015, 2:14pm

Image: Blizzard Entertainment

Those afraid of the robot apocalypse can rest easy, if this year's 6th annual AIIDE StarCraft AI competition is anything to go by. The bots can't yet beat us at a video game.

Running for two weeks from October to November 2015, the competition saw AI bots designed to play StarCraft compete with one another 24 hours a day. The best-performing bots were also pitted against expert human gamers.

This year, Djem5, a Russian player of Starcraft expanison pack Brood War who is considered one of the best non-Korean Protoss (a humanoid species from Starcraft) players in the world played a best-of-five match against AI bots tscmoo, ZZZKBot, and UAlbertaBot, developed by researchers at the University of Alberta. Djem5 won them all. But perhaps that's not too surprising, given Djem5 has been playing Starcraft since 2003 and has recently snagged a fair few human Brood War tournaments such as the Team Liquid Legacy Cup.

Since 2011, the AI StarCraft competitions have been held on 20 Windows XP machines. This year, it was run on 12 virtual machines for the first time, so that the games could go on for much longer.

But the competition website also states that the AI bots are actually at a disadvantage to human players.

Why? Because the AI bots were designed to play in a tournament consisting of thousands of games. This means that while their human counterparts might be playing it safe, the bots are likely "trying out risky strategies or tactics that they would not have chosen if designed to play in a shorter best-of-n type matchup where they may have implemented safer strategies."

Yet another day where our AI bot underlings have proved that they're still no match for us yet.