Episode 3: Life is like a game

Video games have become a favourite tool for AI researchers to test the abilities of their systems. In this episode, Hannah sits down to play StarCraft II - a challenging video game that requires players to control the onscreen action with as many as 800 clicks a minute.

She is guided by Oriol Vinyals, an ex-professional StarCraft player and research scientist at DeepMind, who explains how the program AlphaStar learnt to play the game and beat a top professional player. Elsewhere, she explores systems that are learning to cooperate in a digital version of the playground favourite ‘Capture the Flag’.

Interviewees: Research scientists Max Jaderberg and Raia Hadsell; Lead researchers David Silver and Oriol Vinyals, and Director of Research Koray Kavukcuoglu.

Listen: The challenge of StarCraft II

Listen to this episode and subscribe to the whole series on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, Deezer or your favourite podcast app by searching for “DeepMind: The Podcast”.

Find out more about the themes in this episode: 

  1. The Economist: Why AI researchers like video games
  2. DeepMind blogs: Capture the Flag and Alphastar
  3. Professional StarCraft II player MaNa gives his impressions of AlphaStar and DeepMind
  4. Open AI’s work on Dota 2 
  5. The New York Times: DeepMind can now beat us at multiplayer games, too
  6. Royal Society: Machine Learning resources
  7. DeepMind: The Inside Story of AlphaStar 
  8. Andrej Karpathy: Deep Reinforcement Learning: Pong from Pixels

If you know of other resources we should link to, please help other listeners by either replying to us on Twitter (#DMpodcast) or emailing us at podcast@deepmind.com. You can also use that address to send us questions or feedback on the series.


Presenter: Hannah Fry
Editor: David Prest
Senior Producer: Louisa Field
Producers: Amy Racs, Dan Hardoon
Binaural Sound: Lucinda Mason-Brown
Music composition: Eleni Shaw (with help from Sander Dieleman and WaveNet)