3 min read

Last week, the team at OpenAI made it possible for humans to play the OpenAI Five bot at Dota 2 online. The results were staggering – over a period of just a few days, from April 18 to April 21, OpenAI Five had a win rate of 99.4%, winning 7,215 games (that includes humans giving up and abandoning their games 3,140 times) and losing only 42.

But perhaps we shouldn’t be that surprised. The artificial intelligence bot did, after all, defeat OG, one of the best e-sports teams on the planet earlier this month.

What does OpenAI Five’s Dota 2 dominance tell us about artificial intelligence?

The dominance of OpenAI Five over the weekend is important because it indicates that it is possible to build artificial intelligence that can deal with complex strategic decision-making consistently.

Indeed, that’s what sets this experiment apart from other artificial intelligence gaming challenges – from the showdown with OG to DeepMind’s AlphaZero defeating a professional Go and chess players, bots are typically playing individuals or small teams of players. By taking on the world, it would appear that OpenAI have developed an artificial intelligence system that a large group of intelligent humans with specific domain experience have found it consistently difficult to out-think.

Learning how to win

The key issue when it comes to artificial intelligence and games – Dota 2 or otherwise – is the ability of the bot to learn.

One Dota 2 gamer, quoted on a Reddit thread, said “the bots are locked, they are not learning, but we humans are. We will win.”

This is true – up to a point. The reality is that they aren’t locked – they are, in fact, continually learning, processing the consequences of every decision that is made and feeding it into its system. And although adaptability will remain an issue for any artificial intelligence system, the more games it plays and the more strategies it ‘learns’ it will essentially build adaptability into its system.

This is something OpenAI CTO Greg Brockman noted when responding to suggestions that OpenAI Five’s tiny proportion of defeats indicates a lack of adaptability.

“When we lost at The International (100% vs pro teams), they said it was because Five can’t do strategy. So we trained for longer. When we lose (0.7% vs the entire Internet), they say it’s because Five can’t adapt.”

It’s important to remember that this doesn’t necessarily signal that much about the possibility of Artificial General Intelligence. OpenAI Five’s decision making power is centered around a very specific domain – even if it is one that is relatively complex.

However, it does highlight that the relationship between video games and artificial intelligence is particularly important. On the one hand, video games are a space that can help us develop AI further and explore the boundaries of what’s possible. But equally, AI will likely evolve the way we think about gaming – and esports – too.

Read next: How Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning can turbocharge a Game Developer’s career

Co-editor of the Packt Hub. Interested in politics, tech culture, and how software and business are changing each other.