Gaming company NVIDIA shows off AI that was able to recreate Pacman in just four days by watching gameplay

  • Nvidia's AI can recreate playable games just by watching gameplay
  • It was able to construct code of Pacman in just four days
  • The tool could be used to help generate levels and other game aspects
  • It also has applications in generating algorithms outside of video games 
Gaming company Nvidia says that it's developed an artificial intelligence that can recreate playable games just by watching them.
The AI is able to absorb visual inputs as well as whatever actions a player inputs into the game. It's then able to reproduce code that translates into a playable game. 
In a demonstration, Nvidia showed how its AI was able to re-construct a playable version of the game Pacman after just four days of watching gamers play it.
The AI managed to recreate Pacman (pictured) by watching gameplay and looking at user inputs. It reconstructed a playable version fo the game that will be released in the future
'It learns all of these things just by watching,' said Nvidia’s vice president of simulation technology, Rev Lebaredian, according to The Verge.
'[It’s] similar to how a human programmer can watch many episodes of Pacman on YouTube and infer what the rules of the games are and reconstruct them.'
As noted by The Verge, while the AI's recreation isn't a carbon copy of Pacman - the aesthetic isn't quite as polished and the mechanics aren't as nuanced - it nailed the basic principles of the arcade classic.
Outside of being a novel use of AI in game development, Nvidia's demonstration is significant for its implications on making programming easier.
For instance, Nvidia says that the AI could be used to help blend elements of different games or design different levels.  
While still in its infancy, Nvidia says that the AI could even have applications outside the video game world and could be used to develop algorithms.
For instance, the company said in a briefing, the AI could design navigation algorithms by watching robotic trolleys.
As noted by The Verge, using AI to generate games or virtual worlds isn't novel but Nvidia's AI improves on previous attempts in several ways.
For one, the company's 'memory module' system - which lets the AI store a map of the game - makes the end product more consistent. 
It's also able to differentiate between static and dynamic aspects of a game.
There are still some major obstacles into making the AI a practical, however. According to The Verge, the system required watching 50,000 'episodes' of Pacman.
Since generating that many human-played game hours was unrealistic, the team decided to computer generate the gameplay hours.
However, the AI used to simulate gameplay was too good at the game, making it difficult for Nvidia's system to understand concepts like dying.

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