AI smashes human beings at Dota 2, again

Team Human did steal one game from the all-powerful AI bots, with a little help from the audience and Twitch.

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Jackson Ryan was CNET's science editor, and a multiple award-winning one at that. Earlier, he'd been a scientist, but he realized he wasn't very happy sitting at a lab bench all day. Science writing, he realized, was the best job in the world -- it let him tell stories about space, the planet, climate change and the people working at the frontiers of human knowledge. He also owns a lot of ugly Christmas sweaters.
Jackson Ryan
2 min read

OpenAI Five, the artificial intelligence bot that previously destroyed humans in the video game Dota 2, has just undergone another "benchmark" test -- taking on semi-professional Dota 2 players ranked in the 99.95th percentile in the world.

Good news for humans: We fared a little better this time.

After wiping the floor in warm up games with the audience, OpenAI Five had to take on a team of humans including former Dota 2 professionals and casters Merlini, Fogged, Cap and Blitz. In a three game series, OpenAI Five started strongly, winning the first two games comprehensively. In the final game, the OpenAI team let the audience select their team of five heroes, severely handicapping our future robot overlords. That handicap resulted in the bot predicting it would have only a 2.9 percent chance of winning the match.

And that prediction turned out to be spot on. The human team clawed back a win, finishing the series 2-1.

There may be hope for us, yet.

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The OpenAI team had made some small tweaks to their neural network bot in the past month, increasing its reaction time and putting it through its paces with new, additional strategies.

"It still does seem that they have a much faster reaction when something shocking happens," said David Farhi, a researcher with OpenAI, postulating that this may be one advantage the bot has over human teams.

OpenAI Five is developed by OpenAI, a non-profit organisation founded by Elon Musk and Sam Altman, and uses a neutral network and machine learning to teach itself to play Dota 2. It can play upward of 180 years worth of games against itself, every day. A preliminary version of the system had previously beaten top ranked professionals in the 1v1 version of Dota in 2017. 

The goal of OpenAI is to develop their team of bots to beat a team of Dota 2 professionals at this year's "The International", Dota 2's major annual tournament and one of the biggest events on the esports calendar.

"I am going to have some faith in [OpenAI Five] and I actually think it will beat the pro team," said William "Blitz" Lee, who played on Team Human.

Currently, there are still some restrictions in OpenAI Five games, as the neural network gradually builds on its base of knowledge. With The International taking place from Aug. 20 to 25, the team have just a few weeks to ready themselves for the world's best players.

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