There’s a new king of the hill for the arcade version of the iconic video game, “Ms. Pac Man”…and that king isn’t even human. Until now, the “official” high score for the game was held by Abdner Ashman with 933,580 points. That record might be the next to fall because the first step to toppling it has been taken by artificial intelligence developed by Microsoft.
The competition used the Atari 2600 version of the game. That was the chosen game because it was written to be less predictable than her male counterpart. Microsoft’s AI program, developed by Maluuba, achieved a perfect score on the game of 999,990. Previously, the Atari 2600 record had been set at 266,360.
To break the record, the AI used an approach that they called Hybrid Reward Architecture. They took 150 things in the game that are used to reward, and programmed them into the system. These would be things like finding pellets, avoiding ghosts, and powering up to kill the ghosts for bonus points. Through this system, the AI was able to prioritize objectives and achieve perfection. We’re still waiting to see the practical uses for this, however.