What Dungeons & Dragons Can Do for AI
Artificial intelligence (AI) has come a long way since its inception, and will continue to disrupt the world as we know it. In fact, Tech Republic reports that the technology is poised to create 2.3 million jobs by 2022, while also eliminating 1.8 million others. This means that a massive shift is on its way thanks to AI, but in its current form, the technology is only able to execute specific tasks like bookkeeping, recognizing voices, or providing music or movie suggestions. This is tiny compared to what AI is expected to do in in the future, as the rest of its potential is still being developed.
That said, the technology still has a lot to learn. And while we often think of AI as robots and ultra-smart machines, something as manual as the tabletop roleplaying game Dungeon and Dragons can actually teach AI a thing or two. At present, much of AI research is going into the tech learning how to play certain games and beating opponents. For instance, the new version of Google DeepMind’s AI can play chess, the Chinese board game Go, and the Japanese chess game Shogi. The AI reportedly taught itself to play the three games from scratch.
However, Faraday Institute for Science and Religion research associate Beth Singler argues that AI will be able to learn more from D&D. She points out that games like chess have set objectives and clear paths to victory or defeat, as all the information you need is laid out on the board. Meanwhile, outcomes in D&D are more open-ended since players have different roles and can make an array of different decisions. If an AI were to play D&D like a human, it would have to have its own creative input.
This is ultimately what AI currently lacks. While current AI algorithms can learn strategies by playing through multiple rounds of games, they are limited to a fixed environment. Furthermore, the system refers to a massive history of data, so in essence, its decisions are largely influenced by previous decisions made in games.
A similar concept can be seen in AI algorithms that predict the outcomes of sports games. They analyze the results of previous games as well as refer to player stats, which are not always as reflective of a player’s ability and potential — unlike the fixed pieces on a chessboard. While still in an experimental phase, this type of AI can be crucial for areas like sports betting. Expat Bets’ guide to Vietnam’s sports betting sector indicates how fast the industry is growing. Having just been legalized in several states across the US, sports betting has also been made available in other parts of the world, such as Vietnam, Malaysia, and Japan. And with AI algorithms in place, bettors will more than likely become more confident in placing their wagers due to the assistance AI will provide them in the future.
But what about AI in video games? When battling against AI in a first-person shooter game, for instance, it would seem that the AI can adapt to various situations. Often developers use predetermined patterns. The more complex the game, the more lines of code to process. Therefore, these “AIs” aren’t the type to learn from the player.
By focusing on a game like D&D, AI may be able to learn how to adapt in various environments. Imagine a bot switching its roles each game, from being a paladin in one, and an elf ranger in the next, always contributing creatively in the process.
On the bright side, AI is making progress on that front. For instance, an AI bot called Liberatus made the news when it beat four professional players at a game of poker. This was seen as a milestone for AI because poker has more complex features and mechanics, and the AI cannot see all the cards in the game. It has recently been signed on to work with the Pentagon for war games and other simulations.
All in all, AI is already impressive at its current state thanks to everything it has learned from board games, video games, and sports games thus far. And with even more research and help from games like D&D, the technology can further expand its learning curve and help advance society.
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