In the distant Koprulu Sector of the Milky Way, Facebook’s Zerglings lingered in a restless swarm outside the enemy’s base. After the commander ill-advisedly opened the gate, the social network’s alien horde stormed in and slaughtered forces stationed inside, in a battle fought on the frontiers of artificial-intelligence research.
The bloody incident was part of an annual competition of the videogame StarCraft for AI software bots that wrapped up Sunday. Facebook quietly entered a bot called CherryPi designed by eight people employed by or affiliated with its AI research lab.
The social network’s stealthy space war suggests Facebook is serious about competing with Google and others to set showy new milestones in AI smarts. Google’s London-based DeepMind AI research unit made headlines last year when its AlphaGo software defeated a champion at the board game Go. In August, DeepMind declared StarCraft II, the latest version of the game, as its next target.