How a Minecraft Mod is Helping Build Smarter AI

Polycraft World, a modification of the video game Minecraft, was developed by University of Texas at Dallas researchers to teach chemistry and engineering. Now the game that allows players to build virtual worlds is serving as the foundation for federal research to develop smarter artificial intelligence (AI) technology.
UT Dallas researchers received a grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to use Polycraft World to simulate dynamic and unexpected events that can be used to train AI systems — computer systems that emulate human cognition — to adapt to the unpredictable. The simulated scenarios could include changing weather or unfamiliar terrain. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers have added the threat of an infectious disease outbreak.