Elon Musk’s Dota 2 bots spank top-tier humans, and they know how to trash talk

Enlarge / Shadow Fiend, looking shadowy and fiendish.

A team of computer-controlled bots took on a team of top human players in a Dota 2 show match this weekend, and the computer didn’t just beat the humans—it crushed them.

We were first introduced to OpenAI’s Dota 2 bot at last year’s International, the multimillion dollar Valve-hosted tournament that’s the climax of the competitive season. Backed by Elon Musk, OpenAI’s ambition is to ensure that when artificial intelligence is created it will be good for humans: think Lt. Cmdr. Data rather than Skynet or The Matrix. The OpenAI team is looking at Dota 2 because the game is enormously more complex than games like chess or Go. Unlike those games, Dota 2 is played with imperfect knowledge (you can’t see the whole map at once, so enemy movements can be hidden), it’s made up of thousands of moves over tens of minutes, and its goals are relatively long-term, making it hard to assess in the moment what action is best or which side has the advantage.