Though the bloodshed was virtual, the shame will last a lifetime for one eSports professional. During Valve’s annual Dota 2 tournament, a special 1 vs. 1 exhibition match was held between Danylo “Dendi” Ishutin and a specially created AI bot from the Elon Musk-funded artificial intelligence startup OpenAI. In other words, it’s the ultimate battle of man vs. machine as far as the world of eSports is concerned.
Though Dendi is widely regarded as one of the best Dota 2 players in the world, he was systematically dismantled by the bot twice, and decided to forfeit future matches against the machine. The craziest part? The bot learned enough to completely and utterly dunk on one of the best Dota 2 pros in the world with just approximately two weeks of learning.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l92J1UvHf6M
“Any small hole [in] your play, [the bot] will instantly use it,” Dendi said of the enemy AI, which seemed to be exploiting every tiny mistake the human player made. When asked if the bot felt “human” to him, Dendi replied, “It feels a little bit like human, but sometimes it’s something else.”
Like a true proud papa, Elon Musk was quick to praise the OpenAI team’s work on Twitter, as well as throw shade at more traditional strategy games like chess and Go.
OpenAI first ever to defeat world's best players in competitive eSports. Vastly more complex than traditional board games like chess & Go.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 12, 2017
For those wondering why this is such an achievement as compared to AI taking on competitors in Go or on Jeopardy!, it is due to the complexity of a game like Dota 2. This particular MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) pits two teams of five players against one another in a battle to destroy the opposing team’s base. Though the concept is simple, the variables are astronomical thanks to 113 playable characters, each of whom have their own unique abilities, and tons of craftable items that grant players additional bonuses to their characters stats and attacks.
It is a game that human players spend hours upon hours practicing in order to master, and even then said mastery is usually limited to a small pool of heroes with which the player is particularly skilled. An AI like the one featured in the video above can systematically learn and master each and every one of the game’s characters far faster than any human ever could. The fact that it only took this AI two weeks to do what took Dendi years is a testament to its nightmarishly fast processing speed and its capacity to learn and adapt on the fly.
For those of you running for your fallout shelters and survival bunkers, you don’t need to freak out…yet. The robot apocalypse that Elon Musk warned us about isn’t in the cards for quite some time, especially for OpenAI’s Dota 2 bot. However given the team’s promise that, for next year’s tournament, they’ll have bots that can compete in a full-on 5 vs. 5 match against a team of highly skilled humans, it might be here sooner than you think. At least if your primary concern is maintaining your skill ranking in Dota 2, that is. But for all of those Dota pros out there who think they can do what Dendi could not, OpenAI is making their bot available for practice. Happy hunting!
Dota pro teams interested in trying the bot for training — email [email protected]. We're curious to see if it's useful!
— OpenAI (@OpenAI) August 12, 2017
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Image: OpenAI via YouTube