Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab have taught a computer how to play strategy game Civilization
by providing it with the game's instruction manual.
The project, which was supported by the National Science Foundation, utilized a machine-learning system that allowed the computer to read a regular manual for the game and produce a game-playing strategy.
Using this approach, the computer was able to win 79 percent of the games it played, according to
the MIT news site.
This compares to a system which was provided with additional techniques to improve its game-playing performance, but only managed to win 62 percent of its games.
The purpose of the research was to show that computer systems can learn the meaning of words and put them into practice in a variety of environments.
Regina Barzilay, associate professor of computer science and electrical engineering at MIT, explained, "Game manuals have very open text. They don’t tell you how to win. They just give you very general advice and suggestions, and you have to figure out a lot of other things on your own."
She described the results of the research as "another step closer to the real world."