Skip to Content
Artificial intelligence

Humans are still better than AI at Dota 2—for now

August 23, 2018

A team of professional video gamers prevailed over a group of cutting-edge AI algorithms in a landmark galactic mêlée held last night.

The game, which took place at the International Dota 2 Championships in Vancouver, Canada, showed that humans are still a lot smarter than AI software at complex tasks. The algorithms have previously defeated several teams of less-skilled players.

Five stars: The AI algorithms were developed by OpenAI, an AI research nonprofit funded by Elon Musk, Sam Altman, and others. Dubbed the OpenAI Five, each algorithm is a neural network that learns to play the game through what’s known as reinforcement learning.

Battle plan: Dota 2 involves two teams battling for territory within a sprawling space-themed battle arena. The game is challenging for AI programs because it is complex, requires teamwork, and unfolds over time (making it tricky to gauge successful progress). During last night’s match, the OpenAI Five exhibited some weird behavior before suffering a narrow defeat. Overall, it acquitted itself well against some of the world's best human players.

Cheat codes: Some have noted that, instead of relying on a view of the screen as a human player does, the OpenAI Five use the game’s application programming interface (API). These means the algorithms can instantly access more information about a game. Still, that shouldn’t detract from what is an impressive achievement for AI, despite the loss.  

Deep Dive

Artificial intelligence

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.

Deepfakes of Chinese influencers are livestreaming 24/7

With just a few minutes of sample video and $1,000, brands never have to stop selling their products.

AI hype is built on high test scores. Those tests are flawed.

With hopes and fears about the technology running wild, it's time to agree on what it can and can't do.

You need to talk to your kid about AI. Here are 6 things you should say.

As children start back at school this week, it’s not just ChatGPT you need to be thinking about.

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.