This AI is capable of regenerating buildings in Minecraft, and also even move trees and caterpillars. One of the most fascinating aspects of technology is how we often use processes and items from nature to mimic them. This is what a group of researchers has done, training an AI in Minecraft to mimic cell growth. And, as a result, it builds buildings, trees, and walking caterpillars.
In a video published by the researchers, we can see how a series of objects imitating real items are built in Minecraft. The buildings, castles, or trees you see however have not been created by a human, but by an AI.
Excited to share our work on Morphogenesis in Minecraft! We show that neural cellular automata can learn to grow not only complex 3D artifacts with over 3,000 blocks but also functional Minecraft machines that can regenerate when cut in half 🐛🔪=🐛🐛
— Sebastian Risi (@risi1979) March 17, 2021
More or less, and the fact is that the elements we see in built-in reality have not been built from scratch by the AI. What the researchers have sought is not to test the creativity of artificial intelligence but to see how it behaves by simulating the behavior of cells. The idea is that cells develop and create the human body from a single cell and with a set of rules. It is a process known as morphogenesis.
Through cellular automation in principle cells live, reproduce and die following a set of rules. Something that in principle can also be applied to artificial intelligence so that it knows what to do when certain factors are given for Minecraft blocks. To do this, the researchers created a neural network that applied rules to each type of Minecraft block. From there, it was a matter of seeing how the AI acts as each block interacts with those adjacent to it.
What the neural network was asked to do was to grow an object in blocks. It wasn’t told exactly how, so the neural network learned what kind of blocks to place were to mimic the existing ones. In other words, something similar to what the human body and the cells within it do to create tissues, organs, and in the end the whole body.
The result has been very interesting. The researchers created different objects in Minecraft such as castles, buildings, trees, or a caterpillar capable of moving. Then they cut these objects in half, and the AI was in charge of rebuilding them. As when a wound occurs in the body and heals by itself thanks to the reconstruction made by the cells.
The study has so far been published in arXiv and its researchers believe it can go much further. For now, the AI reconstructs elements that have been destroyed, but they believe that in the future it could also evolve objects by itself according to the environment. In other words, it could simulate the evolution of living things in nature to better resist environmental conditions and survive.
Minecraft, however, is an extremely simple world compared to the real world. While it can serve as a testing ground for basic simulations, adapting this to real life where there are many, many more factors to take into account is very complicated. We will see in the future.