Simon Lucas
General Video Game AI: Challenges and Applications

Abstract: Although AI has excelled at many narrowly defined problems, it is still very far from achieving human-like performance in terms of solving problems that it was not specifically programmed for: hence the challenge of artificial general intelligence (AGI) was developed to foster more general AI research. A promising way to address this is to pose the challenge of learning to play video games without knowing any details of the games in advance. In order to study this in a systematic way the General Video Game AI ( competition series was created. This provides an excellent challenge for computational intelligence and AI methods and initial results indicate often good though somewhat patchy performance from simulation-based methods such as Monte Carlo Tree Search and Rolling Horizon Evolutionary Algorithms. Observing where these methods succeed and fail leads to the conclusion that there is still much scope for further developing algorithms that mix simulation with long-term learning. While running the competitions we have built up a large set of GVGAI players. This large pool of adaptive players leads on to very appealing potential applications in automated and semi-automated game design where the player-set can be used to evaluate novel games and new parameter settings of existing games. Initial explorations of this idea will be discussed. 

Simon Lucas is a professor of Computer Science in the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering at the University of Essex (UK) where he is the Head of School and leads the Game Intelligence Group. He holds a PhD degree (1991) in Electronics and Computer Science from the University of Southampton. His main research interests are games, evolutionary computation, and machine learning, and he has published widely in these fields with over 180 peer-reviewed papers. He is the inventor of the scanning ntuple classifier, is the founding Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Computational Intelligence and AI in Games and co-founded the IEEE Conference on Computational Intelligence and Games. His main research area now is developing and applying computational intelligence techniques to build better game AI, better games, and provide deep insights into the nature of intelligence.