This AI learned to play Minecraft after watching 70,000 hours of YouTube videos

(Image credit: Microsoft)

An AI has learned to play Minecraft after watching YouTube videos of people playing the game for 70,000 hours.

If movies have taught us anything, it's that we're inevitably hurtling toward a future where robots will become so advanced that they'll rise up against their creators and wage war on humankind. And it looks like we're one step closer to Terminator becoming a true story with an AI that's learned how to play Minecraft.

OpenAI has shared its success with a tweet showing the clever AI in action, chopping down trees to make wooden objects, mining for stone after whipping up a pickaxe, and discovering diamonds deep in a cave. "With fine-tuning, our model can learn to craft diamond tools, a task that usually takes proficient humans over 20 minutes," says OpenAI in a blog post.

Okay, so this artificial intelligence clearly has some skills, but how did they get so good at the blocky builder? Well, by watching over 70,000 hours of people playing the game online.

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Impressively, the company says that the AI can also perform other tasks it's learned from observing human players' actions, including swimming, hunting, and cooking. It's also perfected the art of 'pillar jumping', a popular technique that involves jumping and placing a block beneath you to fashion a makeshift pillar that allows you to reach higher places. 

Although we've previously seen machines master games like Chess and Go, an AI able to play an open-ended game like Minecraft as well as (or better than) humans is an incredible achievement. With their newfound skill, we wonder just what games will become popular among the robot community.

If you're looking for an alternative to Mojang's sandbox, we've rounded up 25 games like Minecraft to play that will let your imagination run wild. 

Anne-Marie Ostler
Freelance Writer

Originally from Ireland, I moved to the UK in 2014 to pursue a Games Journalism and PR degree at Staffordshire University. Following that, I've freelanced for GamesMaster, Games TM, Official PlayStation Magazine and, more recently, Play and GamesRadar+. My love of gaming sprang from successfully defeating that first Goomba in Super Mario Bros on the NES. These days, PlayStation is my jam. When not gaming or writing, I can usually be found scouring the internet for anything Tomb Raider related to add to my out of control memorabilia collection.