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.

Life is like a game

27 mins

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)