Back in September Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told a developer conference: “We are not pursuing AI to beat humans at games.”
This week, we learned Redmond has done more or less that – built a proof-of-concept AI that can win at Ms Pac-Man. We’re told the machine-learning system has obtained the perfect score of 999,990 in the arcade hit, compared to the human high-score record of 266,330.
This achievement seems a bit late. DeepMind’s AlphaGo has defeated human Go experts. Libratus and DeepStack cleaned out poker professionals at heads-up no-limit Texas Hold’em. Vicarious whistled past competitors at Breakout. DeepMind’s DQN taught itself how to play various Atari console games. And so on.
However, you can forgive the delay with Ms Pac-Man because it is a rather tricky game for machines to master.