Block by block: Researchers use Minecraft to advance artificial intelligencePosted on August 13, 2021
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Steve may be able to saw wood, make tools, explore caves or dig for precious stones, but the Minecraft avatar cannot understand that each of these steps build to the ultimate goal of obtaining diamonds.
Alan Wagner, assistant professor of aerospace engineering at Penn State, and Sarah Rajtmajer, assistant professor of information sciences and technology, recently received a $900,000 grant from the United States Air Force Office of Scientific Research to investigate next-generation artificial intelligence (AI) skills and perhaps make Steve a little smarter.
The suggestion that people create abstract mental representations to plan for future events and solve multi-step tasks is identified in the literature as the Construal Level Theory, according to Wagner. People think about future events, consciously or unconsciously, using memories and experiences to generate a plan for a future situation.
Wagner and Rajtmajer plan to create AI agents that can mirror the human ability to plan for future events, and then use the video game Minecraft as a tool to test the new software.
“We will create an app that will be able to direct agents to complete certain complex tasks, and then integrate that app into Minecraft to run tests on the software,” Wagner said. “The agent that we create, in this case a Minecraft avatar, will be able to think in abstractions, or in the past, present and future, to solve problems.”
Minecraft, owned by Microsoft and released in 2011, regularly hosts “challenges,” where AI creators compete to solve a problem on the game, such as mining a diamond. That challenge is one scenario Wagner and Rajtmajer will test with the new AI software.
To create the software, Wagner’s former graduate student, Ali Ayub, developed a clustering technique for creating different levels of AI abstract thinking. He named the technique centrally based concept learning, or CBCL.
“The hope is to use CBCL as a tool to allow us to create these abstractions and use them in a variety of ways in the game,” Wagner said. “Minecraft has different types of wood, rocks or animals, for example, and you can tie them into the AI planning process and allow the agent to pick the thing it needs to solve a particular problem.”
If they are successful, according to Wagner, the AI software could contribute to advances in robotics, logistics management, solving problems for pilots in the air, building structures in space and transforming drone flight.
“I think this research has the opportunity to address a longstanding and fundamental challenge in agent-based modeling and behavioral game theory,” Rajtmajer said. “Current models of human social behavior are too simple and homogeneous to be applied to real-world behaviors. This work takes an important step toward representing elements of reasoning and social planning in AI.”
- Multi-institutional team to use AI to evaluate social, behavioral science claims
- Featured Researcher: Nick Tusay
- NSF invests in cyberinfrastructure institute to harness cosmic data
- Center for Immersive Experiences set to debut, serving researchers and students
- Distant Suns, Distant Worlds
- CyberScience Seminar: Researcher to discuss how AI can help people avoid adverse drug interactions
- AI could offer warnings about serious side effects of drug-drug interactions
- Taking RTKI drugs during radiotherapy may not aid survival, worsens side effects
- Cost-effective cloud research computing options now available for researchers
- Costs of natural disasters are increasing at the high end
- Model helps choose wind farm locations, predicts output
- Virus may jump species through ‘rock-and-roll’ motion with receptors
- Researchers seek to revolutionize catalyst design with machine learning
- Resilient Resumes team places third in Nittany AI Challenge
- ‘AI in Action’: Machine learning may help scientists explore deep sleep
- Clickbait Secrets Exposed! Humans and AI team up to improve clickbait detection
- Focusing computational power for more accurate, efficient weather forecasts
- How many Earth-like planets are around sun-like stars?
- Professor receives NSF grant to model cell disorder in heart
- SMH! Brains trained on e-devices may struggle to understand scientific info
- Whole genome sequencing may help officials get a handle on disease outbreaks
- New tool could reduce security analysts’ workloads by automating data triage
- Careful analysis of volcano’s plumbing system may give tips on pending eruptions
- Reducing farm greenhouse gas emissions may plant the seed for a cooler planet
- Using artificial intelligence to detect discrimination
- Four ways scholars say we can cut the chances of nasty satellite data surprises
- Game theory shows why stigmatization may not make sense in modern society
- Older adults can serve communities as engines of everyday innovation
- Pig-Pen effect: Mixing skin oil and ozone can produce a personal pollution cloud
- Researchers find genes that could help create more resilient chickens
- Despite dire predictions, levels of social support remain steady in the U.S.
- For many, friends and family, not doctors, serve as a gateway to opioid misuse
- New algorithm may help people store more pictures, share videos faster
- Head named for Ken and Mary Alice Lindquist Department of Nuclear Engineering
- Scientific evidence boosts action for activists, decreases action for scientists
- People explore options, then selectively represent good options to make difficult decisions
- Map reveals that lynching extended far beyond the deep South
- Gravitational forces in protoplanetary disks push super-Earths close to stars
- Supercomputer cluster donation helps turn high school class into climate science research lab
- Believing machines can out-do people may fuel acceptance of self-driving cars
- People more likely to trust machines than humans with their private info
- IBM donates system to Penn State to advance AI research
- ICS Seed Grants to power projects that use AI, machine learning for common good
- Penn State Berks team advances to MVP Phase of Nittany AI Challenge
- Creepy computers or people partners? Working to make AI that enhances humanity
- Sky is clearing for using AI to probe weather variability
- ‘AI will see you now’: Panel to discuss the AI revolution in health and medicine
- Privacy law scholars must address potential for nasty satellite data surprises
- Researchers take aim at hackers trying to attack high-value AI models
- Girls, economically disadvantaged less likely to get parental urging to study computers
- Seed grants awarded to projects using Twitter data
- Researchers find features that shape mechanical force during protein synthesis
- A peek at living room decor suggests how decorations vary around the world
- Interactive websites may cause antismoking messages to backfire
- Changing how government assesses risk may ease fallout from extreme financial events
- Predictability limit: Scientists find bounds of weather forecasting
- Faculty wins NSF CAREER Award to model structure of extreme weather events
- Mechanical force controls the speed of protein synthesis