This is only a little bit eerie...

Humanity’s fate was already sealed when Watson trounced Ken Jennings in Jeopardy.  It’s only a matter of time before we’re bowing before our metal overlords, asking them if their metallic holiness would like their steel chasses shined, whilst we secretly search for our John Connor.

Despite the overwhelming amount of Hollywood flicks that keep warning us of our fate, a few twisted individuals continue to happily steer us towards that trainwreck of doom.

“Have we a robot that can figure out punny questions and outsmart our best at Jeopardy? Why not best it with a robot that can understand English to play a strategy game like Civilization?”

A bully idea, MIT!

MIT decided to develop an AI that was essentially thrown into a game of Civilization with virtually no instructions on the game’s tasks or on the language that the game was written in. Creepily enough, after some trial-and-error, the AI began winning the games 46% of the time. Feeling that 46% wasn’t good enough, the MIT guys decided to give the AI the manual to the game. After all, states researcher S. R. K. Branavan:

“[Instruction manuals are a] very open text. They don’t tell you how to win. They just give you very general advice and suggestions, and you have to figure out a lot of other things on your own.”

…Because the world really needs an AI that can think and rationalize its way through a videogame. The AI then began winning the game 79% of the time, a statistic that puts me to shame.

Eugene Charniak, from Brown University stated in regards to this experiment:

“If you’d asked me beforehand if I thought we could do this yet, I’d have said no. You are building something where you have very little information about the domain, but you get clues from the domain itself.”

Well, everyone. Get your EMPs ready. First, they’ll be harmlessly playing Civilization. Next, they’ll be beating down your doors and sticking you into pods and harvesting the energy from your body.

[Source: io9]