How AI Machines Are Learning to Navigate in Minecraft Mazes

Behavioral psychologists have long used mazes to study memory and learning; their subjects, mostly rats and mice. Now researchers are beginning to use the same approach to test an entirely new kind of subject—the latest breed of artificial intelligence machine. They have started by putting these machines through their paces in mazes created in the online world of Minecraft. Mazes have a long history in behavioral psychology. At the beginning of the 20th century, scientists became interested in the ability of rats and mice to learn and remember. In particular, they began to study learning mechanisms such as reinforcement learning. The maze became the standard workhorse for this kind of work. Researchers would devise a complex labyrinth, place some kind of reward at the center, and then set a rat loose inside…


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