AI ‘agents’ use Grand Theft Auto V for training to drive cars using OpenAI’s software OpenAI Universe.  You might wonder if the AI is going off the rails, so to speak, and running people over yet. The answer is no, unlike the humans who play GTA V the AI haven’t yet found their inner road rage.

What is OpenAI?

OpenAI is a San Francisco non-profit artificial intelligence research company with some pretty major backers. Sponsors include some of the biggest names in tech like Greg Brockman and Sam Altman as well as Paypal Mafia members Elon Musk, Reid Hoffman and Peter Theil. Other key partners in creating the Universe software are EA, Valve, Microsoft, and NVIDIA. Notably, OpenAI’s focus is to build safe AI and make sure AI’s benefits are widely and evenly distributed.

According to their website, OpenAI’s Universe is ‘a software platform for measuring and training an AI’s general intelligence across the world’s supply of games, websites and other applications.’ They also developed Gym which is a toolkit for developing and comparing reinforcement learning algorithms. When used with Universe, the software allows users to turn any program into a Gym environment.

OpenAI games

So what does this have to do with video games?

Now, you can get an AI agent in a huge range of games thanks to OpenAI’s software Universe and Gym. This technology is especially useful for people building self-driving cars as they can switch out the provided training agent with their own AI agent for testing.

The AI agents which Universe trains use a virtual keyboard and mouse and learn through reinforcement learning. GTA V provides a perfect environment for reinforcement learning especially since it’s in such a realistic setting. But before you worry about AI learning to mow over people and ram other vehicles, know that developers have disabled violence.

was a perfect fit because GTA V runs in Windows, and Universe allows running the AI separate from the game; in Linux, for example, where most AI work is done,”

said Craig Quiter in an interview with The Register.

Quiter maintains the open-source MIT-licenced code that makes GTA V work with Universe and has experience with AI through his work with Otto. Through the Uber-owned startup Otto, Quiter helped deliver over 50,000 cans of beer almost 120 miles (193km) across Colorado in the world’s first autonomous truck delivery.

Videos of AI agents learning and training in games and applications are available online and on the OpenAI website. Additionally, you can read about AI behavior and more information at the OpenAI blog. Moreover, the OpenAI blog covers topics on concerns about AI safety and maintaining control of technology.

With support from key partners, OpenAI granted permission for AI agents to access games like Portal, Mirror’s Edge and Rimworld. That support includes applications like Wolfram Mathematica and Microsoft’s Project Malmo. Further, AI agents are doing things like completing Khan Academy lessons and booking flights, so the possibilities really are endless.

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