We are training robots to excel at outer space future war. In a video game. This is sure to end well for humanity.
The Student StarCraft AI Tournament pits 42 bots — all programmed to excel at stars and the crafting thereof (also war) — in a total of 861 games against each other. Each match is 1v1, and bots lose if all their buildings are in smouldering heaps or their opponent has a higher score after 90 minutes. It's happening right now, and you can watch it here: I actually recommend checking out the chat on Hitbox, though. It's pretty informative.
So far, a person by the name of Martin Rooijackers is in first place. His terran-playing LetaBot uses a number of rather sophisticated strategies — the sorts of things you wouldn't expect from a garden variety video game bot. Rooijackers posted about his bot on TeamLiquid:
"I didn't have time to program the marines to finish the game after a bunker rush. Instead I used Wraiths that scout the map at random and attack any building that comes into their sight. Hence the name LetaBot. [Pro player] Leta was known for his Wraiths."
Meanwhile, TeamLiquid also has a thread recounting previous battles of the tournament, so you can head over there to catch up.
If you just want to know who to root for, though, RPS suggest that Soren Klett, Dave Churchill, Tomas Cere, ICElab, and Krasimir Krystev were solid performers in 2013. Sure enough, they're all quite high in the rankings this year too. ICElab's cold, conniving mega-calculator is especially frightening, with tools that allow it to predict enemy strategies and adapt accordingly. It learns, is what I'm saying. And evidently, it's pretty good at it.
It's all very interesting. The matches aren't always a thrill ride, per se, but there's a certain intrigue in trying to dissect each bot's strategy, figure out what they're programmed to do. Some of the bots even include UIs that tell you how they're thinking, which is nuts. Anyway, I recommend tuning in for at least a match or two. Enjoy!