DARPA Wants To Play With Artificial Intelligence

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency‘s (DARPA) “Gamebreaker” program has recruited participants such as Northrop Grumman to explore the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI ) technology to find ways to “break” a wargame and create advantages over an adversary.

The Gamebreaker program seeks to develop and apply AI to existing open-world video games to quantitatively assess game balance, identify parameters that significantly contribute to balance, and explore new capabilities, tactics, and rule modifications that are most destabilising to the game.

Northrop Grumman is building an AI designed to find new strategies to break virtual opponents. Future AI tools, based on this research, could help human commanders break opponents in real battles. They were recently awarded a contract from DARPA's  Strategic Technology Office (STO) for the Gamebreaker program.  Northrop Grumman says it aims to solve the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Their 90,000 employees define possiblites using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services. 

This innovative program seeks to develop and apply artificial intelligence (AI) to existing real-time strategy games to break a complex model or create an imbalance.

The contract is part of DARPA’s Gamebreaker program, which wants to turn the design considerations of modern strategy games on their head, using AI to find every unfair advantage hidden in the game. “Gamebreaker seeks a methodology for finding “broken states” in games, situations in which one player in the game can gain unexpected advantages over a competitor,” Joshua Bernstein, director of advanced intelligent systems at Northrop Grumman, says.  “In these applications AI finds asymmetrical conditions in a system (eg, the game or a real-world scenario) and communicates these conditions to stakeholders, such as military planners.”

Computer games simulate danger and excitement and the commercial gaming industry has a long-standing interest in maintaining game balance as balanced games are typically more entertaining and market pressures help drive their development. DARPA is hoping that by applying AI to wargames it might prove to be an invaluable educational tools for the US military. 

By “playing” wargames that can respond quickly to changing situations using AI, DARPA’s “Gamebreaker” program intends to help soldiers learn how to respond to different circumstances on the battlefield. The Gamebreaker program is focused on a range of real-time strategy games, or programs where players compete against each other, in such games as the Starcraft series of games, like Google Research Football and others.

Northrop Grumman is building this AI program which is designed to find new strategies to break the virtual opponents program. Their AI will be built in Command: Modern Operations, a hyper-realistic theater-wide combat simulator designed to model Cold War as well as present conflicts.

In future conflicts, DoD investment is designed to maximise imbalance to create an advantage or to seek equilibrium when an adversary is seeking an advantage. “If we can figure out a generic method to assess and then manipulate balance in commercial video games, my hope is that we might then apply those AI algorithms to create imbalance in DoD simulated war games used to train warfighters for real-world battle,” said Lt. Col. Dan Javorsek, the Gamebreaker program manager in DARPA’s Strategic Technology Office.

Gamebreaker is only a small contract worth about $1 million, but the implications for more accurate wargaming using AI could have a big impact on how weapons systems are designed, modeled and ultimately used by human commanders.

 To succeed, DARPA wants to build an AI that can play a strategy game and then, while staying within the rules of the game, calculate how to use all the available pieces in the best and most unfair way against its opponents.  This is about new tactics, without the limitations of human understanding holding back how the algorithm plots a path to victory.

DARPA:      Northrop Grumman:      Breaking Defense:    I-HLS:    AIBusiness:     Bluewave:   Microwaves& RF

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