Unreal Tournament programming competition creates AI bots that are more convincingly human than actual humans

What a noob! Oh, wait... it's a robot pretending to be a noob

What a sad day for the Human Race. Turns out we can't even win at 'being human' any more. Still, chin up. Let's look at how this shameful state of affairs came about.

It's all thanks to Unreal Tournament 2004 or, more specifically, a competition at the IEEE Conference on Computational Intelligence and Games, which used the framework of Unreal Tournament 2004 to create Artificial Intelligece in bots that could trick human players into thinking they were playing against fellow sacks of carbon and water (according to Eurogamer).

Normally, humans are human enough to be distinguishable from AI bots but, for the first time ever, it was the AI bots that came out on top in a 'Turing test' last week. In case you haven't heard of a Turing Test before, it's a 100-year-old method designed to test a machine's apparent consciousness, by judging its ability to fool us into thinking it's human. The aim was to beat the 50% threshold and that was achieved for the first time in this expeiment, with a score of 52%. Most humans only score around 42%, so that's pretty remarkable.

Above: You'd think the judges could just ask something over voice chat, wouldn't you?

Funnily enough, this breakthrough was actually achieved by making the bots a little more rubbish at things, such as aiming and tactical decisions. They were given new parameters for illogical human traits like revenge - chasing after one player even if it meant jeapordising their own safety. Aiming accuracy after fast movements was also toned down, as was the ability to hit targets at long distance. Basically, they were noobified.

With two bots being tagged as 'human' the same number of times by the judges, the $7,000 prize was split between two parties: UT^2, created by University of Texas professor Risto Miikkulainen alongside doctoral students Jacob Schrum and Igor Karpov, and MirrorBot by Romanian computer scientist Mihai Polceanu.


The longest-serving GR+ staffer, I was here when all this was just fields. I'm currently Reviews Editor but still find time to speedrun Sonic levels and make daft Photoshop articles.
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