Much of the science fiction genre would have you believe that artificial intelligence would bring about humanity’s downfall by rising up and slaughtering its creators, but the recent boom in AI tech has instead amounted to labor crimes like journalistic malpractice and robbing artists of their commissions. So while AI is mostly being used to make creatives obsolete, Microsoft is apparently doing internal testing on a demo that makes AI essentially play Minecraft for you.
According to a report from Semafor, the demo recently showcased technology that allowed the user to simply tell Minecraft what to do, and it would move your character, collect materials, and more based on your directions.. Minecraft’s open-ended nature has apparently presented somewhat of a challenge for the tech, however, as there are multiple ways to accomplish a task in Mojang’s game. The example given in the report is building a car in Minecraft, which can be done in myriad ways depending on what supplies you have on-hand. So saying something broad like “build a car” would likely not get you as precise an in-game action as “build a car out of stone blocks.”
While the tech could be interesting, and maybe make Minecraft more accessible to people who have trouble playing with traditional controllers or mouse and keyboard, Semafor’s sources say Microsoft has no plans to implement the AI tech into a public version of Minecraft. These kinds of tech demos happen internally at big companies all the time with no real-world application. But applying something like AI tech to a mainstream video game like Minecraft in a way that could make it more easily playable to some people is at least a more comprehensible use for the tech rather than “we want to replace the human element of an industry so we don’t have to pay people.”
At the moment, this sounds similar to voice command tech Microsoft has tried to implement in peripherals like the Kinect motion sensor, which added voice options to games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Mass Effect 3. But given how poorly that turned out, it remains to be seen if this is something the company plans to pursue in the future or if it’s just trying something out.