Watch DeepMind's AI Tackle 'Starcraft 2'

DeepMind, a Google-backed AI project, has already used advanced neural networks to learn how to play the millennia-old game Go and dominate human champions. Now, DeepMind is taking on a more modern challenge in gaming.

At 1PM EST today, Blizzard will livestream DeepMind’s AI playing the wildly popular strategy game StarCraft II.

Complicated strategy games like Starcraft II and Dota 2 are hard for AI to master. OpenAI beat human Dota 2 opponents in August, but did so with significant handicaps. Tencent developed AI that can take down StarCraft II’s own bots at the highest difficulty, but human players have still consistently beaten AIs at StarCraft II.

It’s unclear if today’s match-up will be against human players or bots, or if it will include handicaps that make the game easier for the AI.

As the MIT Technology Review pointed out in a recent article, Starcraft requires players to use their memory, strategize, and plan ahead simultaneously, making it difficult for AI—but perhaps not insurmountable.

In 2016, Blizzard released Starcraft II’s API along with a pack of 65,000 match replays, which DeepMind used to train the AI. Soon after, the AI had learned some sly Starcraft tactics like the tower rush—when an opponent sends a worker to build a defensive tower inside your base early in the game. While this was surprisingly effective, it was clear that the AI had a long way to go to truly master the game.

“Once it started to grasp the basic rules of the game, it started exhibiting amusing behavior such as immediately worker rushing its opponent, which actually had a success rate of 50% against the ‘Insane’ difficulty standard StarCraft II AI,” Blizzard said of DeepMind at Blizzcon in November.

In a blog post on Tuesday, Blizzard noted that DeepMind has gotten a lot better at StarCraft II since Blizzcon. In a little over two months, the AI has apparently learned to defend against cheesy tactics as well as deploy them, according to the blog post.

We’ll find out what DeepMind has planned for Starcraft II at 1PM EST.

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