Message from the world’s best StarCraft
players to the world’s most advanced AI:
bring it on.
The space-war computer game is
widely regarded as the ultimate challenge
for AI programs thanks to its complexity
and rapid pace. Expectations for a match-
up between a professional StarCraft
player and sophisticated AI ratcheted
up last year after an AI program beat a
highly ranked human player at Go, one of
the world’s most di;cult board games. At
the time, a number of AI experts pointed
to StarCraft as the next target for an AI-
versus-man showdown. Among them:
Demis Hassabis, the founder and CEO
of DeepMind, the AI-focused division of
Alphabet that created the triumphant Go-
playing AI program, AlphaGo.
MIT Technology Review asked two
leading StarCraft players—Byun Hyun
Woo, winner of the 2016 StarCraft II
World Championship Series, and Lee
Jaedong, a recently retired professional
player who now works as a StarCraft commentator—how they would fare against an
AlphaGo-type program, the battle strategy
they would use, and what rules they would
impose to keep the contest fair. Both
players live in South Korea, which has
long been the world’s most competitive
StarCraft venue. Both are willing to duel
with an elite AI program in a televised
StarCraft contest, if one were to be held.
But beyond that, their opinions diverge.
Byun is far surer about his chances against
AI. “I don’t think AI can beat [a professional player], at least not in my lifetime,”
says the 24-year-old.
His confidence stems, in part, from
key di;erences between Go and StarCraft.
Go is considered a “perfect-information
game” because both players can see the
whole board. In StarCraft, players can’t
view the entire field of play and thus have
less information to analyze when planning their moves. That matters because
StarCraft is a real-time strategy game
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Professional StarCraft player Byun Hyun
Woo playing in the 2016 StarCraft II World
Championship Series, which he won.
StarCraft Pros Are Ready
to Battle AI
Elite players of the strategy game reveal how they would fight high-level AI
bots created by DeepMind, Facebook, and other tech companies.