Having conquered the Chinese game of Go, the next challenge for Google’s artificial intelligence could be a bit harder as researchers consider teaching the AI Starcraft.

While Starcraft may just seem like another game, unlike Go, or chess, the Blizzard classic might stump the artificial intelligence according to Wall Street Journal.

The reason for this is because unlike a board game, where players take their turns one person at a time, StarCraft is a Real Time Strategy (RTS) game with pieces that are always moving and multiple actions taking place on screen (and in the fog of war) at any given moment.

Despite this the creator of the AI program that beat Lee Se-Dol at Go, Demis Hassabis, has reportedly been eyeing Starcraft for some time now saying it would be “the next step up” for AI.

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of StarCraft is that unlike Go, you cannot see what your opponent is up to. This means that while it may seem like your opponent is trying to simply build their base, on the other side of the map they could be rallying the troops, preparing to destroy your nerve centre.

Bluffing then, becomes a big part of the game and President and co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment, Michael Morhaime thinks it will be interesting to see a computer try to understand this.

“Giving false information or false cues is a very advanced strategy, so it would be amazing to see a computer try to do that,” Morhaime told The Wall Street Journal.

Can AI do it?

The jury is split on whether AI can beat out its human competition. Eugene Kim, a South Korean StarCraft gamer was quoted as saying, “In order for a computer to win, it needs to learn how to lie,” with the lying in reference to bluffing.

Computer scientist at the University of Alberta, David Churchill says that while bluffing is a part of the game its simply another way to play the game and that AI will eventually figure out how to “bluff”.

With that said the AI will need to be able to not only adapt to the game but also account for multiple outcomes, and ways to play the game, a problem some programmes have at the moment when they can’t settle on a strategy and “dance” units across the map  while not contributing any meaningful to the game.

This ultra smart AI is still a way off then especially when you consider that in an annual StarCraft AI challenge that Churchill has run for the last five years, the computers are yet to win.

[Via – Wall Street Journal] [Image – SA BY/2.0 Horst Gutmann]