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Elon Musk's AI Project Thinks It Can Beat The World's Best DOTA Teams

27 JUN 2018

Is AI ready for elite competition in team-based strategy esports? Elon Musk thinks so, and we'll find out if he's right in August.

OpenAI, the research group Musk cofounded in 2015, has been hard at work on building a machine learning system that could outplay the best DOTA 2 teams in the world.


Last year at The International, the world's biggest DOTA 2 tournament with tens of millions in prize money at stake, OpenAI took on elite players in one on one match ups to show off how far things had already come.

But that's still a long way from the true five vs five full map experience of a real match.

Unlike many simpler problems like boardgames and first-person shooters, strategy games require a lot of guesswork to play well. There's 'fog of war' that prevents perfect knowledge of what your opponent is up to, and there's asymmetry in how different characters and team compositions will play against each other.

And most of all, this is real-time. Strategy boardgames allow thinking time between moves. A game like DOTA is constantly and dynamically evolving as the game and team decisions progress.

But OpenAI thinks this past year has prepared its latest AI, OpenAI Five, for the big leagues.

Critically, its machine learning algorithm is able to play the equivalent of 180 years of DOTA. Every. Single. Day. The AI is playing against itself on over 100,000 CPUs.


Over the past two months alone the AI has gone from being able to beat novices, to serious amateurs, and now to teams considered to be in the top one percent in the world.

There is a 'but', though. Currently the games OpenAI is playing are highly controlled. The teams play in a mirror match up - both teams are made up of the exact same characters every time to remove this element of asymmetry humans must usually embrace. And a bunch of utility options and map objectives are not allowed at this time.

Still, it's learning quickly and it will be truly exciting to see how the bots will fare when a special match is played at The International 8 in August.

Along with this in-depth blog post, this video is a wonderful explanation of what OpenAI has achieved.

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