Self-Driving Cars Can Learn a Lot by Playing Grand Theft Auto

Spending thousands of hours playing Grand Theft Auto might have questionable benefits for humans, but it could help make computers significantly more intelligent. Several research groups are now using the hugely popular game, which features fast cars and various nefarious activities, to train algorithms that might enable a self-driving car to navigate a real road. There’s little chance of a computer learning bad behavior by playing violent computer games. But the stunningly realistic scenery found in Grand Theft Auto and other virtual worlds could help a machine perceive elements of the real world correctly. A technique known as machine learning is enabling computers to do impressive new things, like identifying faces and recognizing speech as well as a person can. But the approach requires huge quantities of curated data, and…


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