- Microsoft announced Monday that in July it will let users to both develop and judge artificial intelligence software using Minecraft's virtual landscape.
- The company said it is making the offer because Minecraft is already more advanced than existing AI research simulations and is cheaper than building a robot.
- The experiments will run on researchers' own computers and separate from regular Minecraft players for the time being, though the company hopes players will eventually be able to interact with the code.
Microsoft is not the only company trying to make it easier for researchers to work with artificial intelligence and machine learning. In January, Yahoo released 13.5TB of data to help researches who need large data sets to test machine learning programs. And last week, HP Enterprise announced that it will offer Machine Learning-as-a-Service in an effort to democratize Big Data.
Minecraft users will need to install an open source software platform called AIX in order to conduct their experiments. AIX allows the AI code to control characters, soliciting feedback about the consequences of its actions.
"Eventually, we will be able to scale this up further to include tasks that allow AI agents to learn to collaborate with humans and support them in a creative manner," said Katja Hofmann, who leads the project at Microsoft Research's Cambridge lab in the UK.
Minecraft’s open-ended nature makes it useful for AI because of the large number and variety of simulations it can conduct from a first-person perspective, according to Microsoft.