OpenAI releases Universe, a platform for training AIs to play games, use apps

A company backed by Elon Musk wants to help robots to learn to steal cars by playing games

OpenAI, an artificial intelligence research company, wants to let AIs loose in their own universe, where they can learn to play games, use apps and interact with websites.

Universe is the name of OpenAI's tool for training AIs on, as it puts it, "any task a human can complete with a computer." Using a VNC (Virtual Network Computing) remote desktop, it allows the AI to control the game or app using a virtual keyboard and mouse, and to see its output by analyzing the pixels displayed on the screen. It's essentially an interface to the company's Gym toolkit for developing reinforcement algorithms, a type of machine learning system.

The source code for Universe posted to Github on Monday, and includes interfaces to a thousand online environments, the company said.

Among them are simple browser tasks such as clicking buttons, or copying and pasting items -- but there are also more complex environments, such as the video game Grand Theft Auto V.

Training AIs how best to steal cars and shoot bystanders might seem a strange direction to take, given that OpenAI's mission is to build safe AI, and that one of its goals is to enable a general-purpose robot to wield tools -- initially to perform housework.

But playing games is an important test of artificial intelligence: Many games are like small virtual worlds, the company said, and AI learning techniques will have to advance significantly in order to play a diverse range of games quickly and well. Being able to quickly master new, unfamiliar environments in this way is a first step toward general intelligence.

The non-profit company is backed by Elon Musk and Peter Thiel among others, and receives support from Microsoft, Amazon Web Services and Infosys.

OpenAI says it has already struck deals with game publishers including Microsoft Studios, EA and Valve, allowing AIs to learn to play games such as Portal, Wing Commander III, Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2, and Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri. Less playful AIs will in future also be able to learn to use Wolfram's Mathematica software using Universe, OpenAI said.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?