@LowBitLovecraft     Morgopolis Studios                                                 Good Stuff! About

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Computer Learns to Play Civilization

Civilization is a nation-building strategy game.
And it's more fun than the previous sentence implies.

Civilization already has computer opponents built into the game, so why is this a big deal?

The big deal is that the AI wasn't built into the game, and since it wasn't a part of the game the AI didn't know anything about Civilization. The only way it could learn was by looking at the screen and trying to figure out what was going on, just like we do.

It was given rudimentary controls over a mouse (the same level of interaction that we're allowed), and it was also given a goal: win Civilization (FreeCiv, actually, which is essentially Civilization 2).

What makes this story even more interesting is that the AI started the game not knowing a word of English. It had to learn a language by playing Civilization, relating the on-screen words to whatever they were associated with in the game and then making hypotheses as to their meaning.

Even crazier, the developers gave the computer the instruction manual and it's success rate jumped from 46% to 79%.

It read the fucking manual.

This is such a cool story.
But even better are the comments. Something about this story brought out some interesting opinions:

Grandmas Boy:
Sometimes I feel like computers are our Pandora's Box.

Computers learn how to read instruction manuals years after humans forgot how to read them.

Well, that just induced a panic shit from me.

I teach computer how to do me in the butt sweetly. 
My dick is big.

1997, Deep blue beats Gary Kasperov in a regulation tournament... 2011, computer learns to play WoW, is never heard from again.

Bit of a tangent, but I'm curious about which victory conditions the AI tended towards. I'm hoping it was space colonization and not world domination.

Branavan (one of the creators replying to the previous post):
Our algorithm is inherently biased towards finding the fastest way to win the game. Against the built-in AI, this happens to be world domination via an "early rush" strategy - so that is what the method ends up learning. 
S.R.K. Branavan.


  1. I forgot what I was going to say about this because I am a little overwhelmed that you decided to RE-POST the comments to a public news story, which are guaranteed to be the 2nd stupidest words ever written by human beings (iPhone game reviews will always be 1st). Thanks for sharing?

  2. Yes, but you're posting a comment about a re-posting of comments to a public news story. What does that make you?

    And, good lord, if I'm replying to your comment then what does that make me?