YouTube can teach you almost anything. Need to learn how to edit a picture in Photoshop? There’s a video for that! Need to learn how to forge a medieval sword in your at-home metal foundry? There’s a video for that to. YouTube is one of the most effective tools for teaching people new concepts and skills, but did you know it can also be used to teach machines? Researchers at Georgia Tech have been using YouTube videos to teach a specially designed artificial intelligence how to design video games.
The AI is able to watch YouTube footage of classic games like Super Mario Brothers and then construct it’s own levels for the game based on the information it observed. So far these robo-levels are fairly accurate. The AI knows how to build structures that fit within the Super Mario world and how to design a level so that Mario is able to move through with is regular range of motion. The levels are randomly generated and original in the sense that they don’t copy the layout of any existing layout that the AI has seen. This is particularly interesting since early games like Mario and classic arcade games like Pac Man and Donkey Kong came with a designated “kill screen” a point at which the game can offer no more content, even when levels are being randomly generated. With the new YouTube-trained AI, games that used to end in a kill screen can now last forever.
This isn’t the first time researchers have used YouTube to teach a machine a skill. Earlier this year, scientists at the University of Maryland released a report on training robots by using YouTube videos. The scientists were able to teach robots human skills like cooking and food preparation by feeding them YouTube how-to videos. This sounds like an amazing idea and also the terrifying beginning of a story that ends with machines overthrowing mankind! I love it!