Google DeepMind AlphaStar Starcraft II AI To Secretly Battle Human Players In Public Ranked Matches

Google's DeepMind division has had considerable success competing against and crushing human competitors in Starcraft II. The DeepMind AlphaStar artificial intelligence (AI) trounced Grzegorz "MaNa" Komincz of Team Liquid back in January 5-0 in a professional match on a competitive ladder.

However, in that matchup, MaNa knew that he was going up against AI ahead of time, so there were no surprises. Google will now enter its AlphaStar into a Starcraft II European competitive ladder in the near future where it will essentially be going undercover to battle against human opponents. 

StarCraft 2 AlphaStar

"For scientific test purposes, DeepMind will be benchmarking AlphaStar’s performance by playing anonymously during a series of blind trial matches," reads a blog on Blizzard's official Starcraft II site. "This means the StarCraft community will not know which matches AlphaStar is playing, to help ensure that all games are played under the same conditions."

These stipulations have been put in place in an effort to ensure that players don't try to adjust strategies to counter AlphaStar. Instead, Starcraft II players will simply think that are playing against a [very good] human competitor.

"Having AlphaStar play anonymously helps ensure that it is a controlled test, so that the experimental versions of the agent experience gameplay as close to a normal 1v1 ladder match as possible," writes Blizzard in a FAQ on the upcoming blind test. "It also helps ensure all games are played under the same conditions from match to match."

There's no guarantee that you will be placed in a ladder to compete against AlphaStar, and only a "small number of games" will be played in total. During the trial, Blizzard says that there will be "a number of experimental versions of AlphaStar" deployed to help bolster the amount of data obtained to improve the system in the future.

As in previous competitions, AlphaStar will have certain restrictions put in place so that is can't see the entire map ahead of time. AlphaStar already has the ability to react to on-screen situations much faster than humans, and giving it access to the entire map at once would further stack the odds in its favor.

After the matches are complete, Blizzard says that Google will use the data obtained to enhance "ongoing research into artificial intelligence" and that a peer-reviewed scientific paper will be released in addition to match replays.