07 February 2008

Neurotic robots better at strategy games

Mind Hacks points to some fascinating AI research:

[Researchers] used the popular strategy game Age of Mythology and created four software 'bots' to play the computer which were loosely based on the 'big
' personality traits.

When they compared their successes, the version designed to simulate 'neurotic' personality traits came equal first in number of games won, but was the clear winner when the average time to victory was compared. It was deliberately designed to overestimate the value of current resources and had a tendency to resort to extreme playing styles - tending at times towards aggressive play, and at other times, overly defensive strategies.
Research slides here. So how come a neurotic computer player (as opposed to aggressive, defensive, or normal players) did better vs. a standard rational computer player? I guess if you're a computer playing a computer, any 'element of surprise' works in your favor, even when it sacrifices some of the gains you could win from playing with maximum rationality. As a human playing a 'neurotic' AI script, is there a comparative advantage to being even more neurotic?

Related link: algorithms for winning rock-paper-scissors.