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Computer Learns Language By Playing Games

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"Civilization" is a strategy game in which players build empires by, among other things, deciding where to found cities and deploy armies.

Image courtesy of Sid Meier's Civilization V

Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Regina Marzilay has adapted a system she developed to generate scripts for installing software on a Windows computer based on postings from a Microsoft help site to learn to play the Civilization computer game.

The goal of the project was to demonstrate that computer systems that learn the meanings of words through exploratory interaction with their environments have much potential and deserve further research.

The system begins with no prior knowledge about the task or the language in which the instructions are written, making the initial behavior almost completely random. As the system takes various actions, different words appear on the screen. The system finds those words in the instructions and develops hypotheses about what those words mean, based on the surrounding text. The hypotheses that consistently lead to good results are referred back to more frequently, while the hypotheses that are proven unsuccessful are discarded.

In the case of the computer game, the system won 72 percent more often than a version of the same system that did not use the written instructions, and 27 percent more frequently than an artificial intelligence-based system.

From MIT News
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