Skip to Content

AI Crushed a Human at Dota 2 (But That Was the Easy Bit)

August 14, 2017

Machine learning software from OpenAI has beaten one of the world’s best players at the video game Dota 2. Elon Musk, who co-founded OpenAI, says that it is the "first ever … defeat [of the] world's best players in competitive e-sports." The Verge reports that Danylo Ishutin, the human player who got beaten, found the AI "a little like [a] human, but a little like something else" to play against.

OpenAI’s software mastered the game, which requires players to defend a base from their opponents, by playing a copy of itself. “We didn’t hard-code in any strategy, we didn’t have it learn from human experts, just from the very beginning, it just keeps playing against a copy of itself,” explains OpenAI researcher Jakub Pachocki in a video. “It starts from complete randomness and then it makes very small improvements, and eventually it’s just pro level.”

It’s an impressive feat, not least because Dota 2 requires making decisions based on imperfect information, unlike games such as Go or chess. But it’s not all good news. Some players have reported that they beat the algorithm after studying its play, and at any rate the AI can only play one-on-one, which is far simpler than regular five-on-five battles that require extensive collaboration. According to TechCrunch, OpenAI says that the five-player game is on its list of problems to crack.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

DeepMind’s cofounder: Generative AI is just a phase. What’s next is interactive AI.

“This is a profound moment in the history of technology,” says Mustafa Suleyman.

What to know about this autumn’s covid vaccines

New variants will pose a challenge, but early signs suggest the shots will still boost antibody responses.

Human-plus-AI solutions mitigate security threats

With the right human oversight, emerging technologies like artificial intelligence can help keep business and customer data secure

Next slide, please: A brief history of the corporate presentation

From million-dollar slide shows to Steve Jobs’s introduction of the iPhone, a bit of show business never hurt plain old business.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.