Meta teaches an AI to lie, strategize

Meta has trained an AI agent to play a boardgame that involves chatting with other players to persuade them to support its strategies — and then betraying them.

The company, which owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, says that its Cicero AI may have widespread applications in the near future including developing smarter virtual assistants with the combined use of technologies such as natural language processing (NLP) and strategic reasoning, according to a blog post released by the company.  

In a research article in the academic journal Science, Meta said its Cicero AI achieved human-level performance at the strategy boardgame Diplomacy in an online league where it played 40 games against 82 humans, ranking in the top 10% of participants who played more than one game.

Diplomacy pits seven players against one another for control of a map of Europe. Each turn begins with players negotiating with one another for support for their plans and concludes with them simultaneously trying to execute their moves. Without the support of other players, many of these moves will fail.

The game posed a challenge for the AI agent, Meta said, as winning required it to understand if its opponents were bluffing or strategizing in a certain way to win the game. The AI needed to extend a certain level of empathy while playing the game to form collaborations with other players, something AIs have not needed to do when playing games such as chess against human opponents.

AI agents have been getting better at strategy games over the years: In 1997, IBM’s Deep Blue software defeated world chess champion Gary Kasparov, and in 2016, DeepMind’s AlphaGo beat top Go player Lee Sedol. Facebook has also developed another AI engine that can top humans in Poker.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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