Home > Tech & innovation > How many bots does it take to change an industry? (Part 2)

How many bots does it take to change an industry? (Part 2)

| By Hannah Gannage-Stewart | Reading Time: 3 minutes
Clarion conference producer Conor Mulheir continues his deep dive into artificial intelligence

Clarion conference producer Conor Mulheir continues his AI analysis with a look at how the bots have made it into esports.

This year, the bots have stepped up once again and are now taking on the world of esports under the watchful eye of billionaire schoolboy Elon Musk.

OpenAI Five is an artificially intelligent esports team, which last week played in DOTA2’s The International, the world’s largest professional tournament in one of esports’ most sophisticated titles. And OK, it hasn’t won. Yet.

The OpenAI team has shown a few less-than-ideal playing strategies so far, but they have held their own overall.

Their first match in The International saw the bots face off against ‘Team paiN’, in a close-fought battle lasting over 45 minutes.

While a victory would surely have demonstrated the programme’s superiority over human players, its ability to at least give them a run for their money should tell us something about AI’s dynamism in 2018.

There are incalculable variables involved in a game like this, which is played between two teams of five choosing from over a hundred characters, each with unique abilities, in a huge virtual arena.

The ability of a machine to adapt to the unexpected in situations such as this demonstrates its human-like cognitive abilities, and raises further questions of where this tech may take us in the future.

During the training process, OpenAI Five bots are capable of simulating 180 years of experience (over 1.5 million hours) each, every day. That’s over 900 years of experience, daily, that the team amasses.

Given the old adage that it takes 10,000 hours to become a true expert at something, what will be the future capabilities of machines which have had 10,000 years’ experience or training?

Given the exponential rate of growth in this area, will it be possible for the machines of the future to simulate hundreds of thousands or millions of years of experience, every day?

What’s the big idea?
So, what does this mean for the gaming world? Integrity ought to be a major concern here.

As AI technology becomes more widely adopted and available, what systems will be put in place to prevent online poker players from running an AI bot alongside their virtual table, providing them with the moves which will always give them a statistical advantage?

Will the fraudsters of the future enter into amateur esports competitions, equipped with bots who have effectively trained for thousands of years to take money from lower level players?

Perhaps new systems will be developed to determine when an AI bot is masquerading as a human, but how soon will this become a pressing need for the gaming industry?

Will applications advance on both sides to create a kind of technological arms race? Bots playing online poker are already a concern for recreational players, though the sophistication of these is typically quite far from the dizzying heights of Libratus.

Many more accomplished online players feel they’re able to identify when they’re playing against a bot, and some claim the ability to exploit their idiosyncrasies for profit.

However, does this act as a barrier and prevent non-players from getting involved? If the overarching view of online poker is that there are people out there using complex algorithms to cheat amateurs out of their hard-earned money, new players will surely be put off and opt for a less risky game to play.

So how can operators tackle this? You guessed it – more AI! Increasingly accurate personal identification solutions are helping operators to know their customers more intimately than ever, and in-depth data analysis can give them a great deal of insight into how those customers play.

By strictly verifying each customer’s identity and analysing their playing styles, operators should be able to protect their honest players while eliminating the threat of them being thrown to the technological sharks.

Whatever happens next, it’s clear that no company can turn a blind eye to advances in AI technology.

If it isn’t used for maintaining integrity and responsibility in gaming, we can be sure that someone out there will use it for precisely the opposite purpose.

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