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Microsoft Research Blog

The Microsoft Research blog provides in-depth views and perspectives from our researchers, scientists and engineers, plus information about noteworthy events and conferences, scholarships, and fellowships designed for academic and scientific communities.

Microsoft challenge: Build a collaborative AI in Minecraft

March 14, 2017 | Posted by Microsoft Research Blog

By John Roach, Writer, Microsoft Research

Malmo Collaborative AI Challenge

A Microsoft Research team has created a competition using Project Malmo, a platform that uses Minecraft as a testing ground for advanced artificial intelligence research. The team is challenging PhD students to develop an AI that learns to collaborate with other randomly assigned players to achieve a high score in a mini-game within the virtual world.

The field of collaborative AI research involves the development of technologies that work with, empower and augment human capabilities. The ability to collaborate is key to the development of a general AI that can mimic the nuanced and complex way humans learn and make decisions. Such an AI would represent an evolution from task-specific AI technologies that recognize speech, translate languages and caption images.

That would allow researchers to develop technology that can comprehend the intent of others, develop a shared problem-solving strategy and coordinate activity to efficiently accomplish a common task. While these problems remain unsolved, recent progress in AI research provides a foundation to begin tackling them, notes the Microsoft team hosting the Malmo Collaborative AI Challenge.

The challenge is open to PhD students worldwide. After registration, teams of one to three members are supplied a task that consists of one or more mini-games. The goal is to develop an AI solution that learns how to work with other, randomly assigned players to achieve a high score in the game.

Participants submit their solutions to GitHub, including a one-minute video that shows off the AI agent and summarizes what is interesting about their approach, all the participant’s code, and a Readme file that explains the selected approach, design decisions and instructions on how to run the code.

The solutions will be evaluated on originality, performance, code quality and GitHub stars, which are a measure of popularity. Three winning teams will receive Azure research grants of US $20,000. Members of three winning teams from the European Economic Area and Switzerland are also eligible to win spots at the Microsoft Research AI Summer School.


John Roach writes about Microsoft research and innovation. Follow him on Twitter.