This time around, however, the game of choice is Minecraft. According to Facebook, the simplicity and sandbox nature of Microsoft's popular title make it the perfect training ground for a generalist assistant AI. In Minecraft's 'Creative' mode, players have been able to recreate complex structures like Star Trek's Enterprise D with just a few simple building blocks. It's that potential for almost infinite creativity with a small set of easy-to-understand tools, in conjunction with the difficulty of teaching an AI to understand natural language, that has Facebook spending countless hours on a private Minecraft server. The hope is to eventually create an AI assistant that can help people with their day-to-day tasks, which is something Facebook has been trying to do for a couple of years now.
In 2015, Facebook launched M, an AI-powered personal assistant within the company's Messenger app, only to shut down the platform after two-and-a-half years. One of the limitations of M was that it frequently required human oversight to complete tasks. Its other issue was that, outside of a small handful of tasks, Messenger users didn't use M a lot, limiting the AI's ability to learn. With enough time and some tweaks, the company's Minecraft AI could form the basis of a future version of M. In the meantime, if you'd like to check out Facebook's Minecraft AI, it's available to download.