As it turns out, there’s an A.I. that’s no better at avoiding collisions in Grand Theft Auto V than we are.
Right now, an artificial intelligence going by the name “Charles” is absolutely wreaking havoc across the open-world landscape of Los Santos in Grand Theft Auto V as it learns how to drive. It’s a disaster made even better by the tasteful dialogue of GTA V: “You fuckin’ dick!”
Wait, hold up: Here’s how an A.I. made by a person could even get into the game: The long-running GTA series, started in 1997, has open-source versions of the game available for PC, where players commonly install custom mods like new environments or characters like the Incredible Hulk. (You can’t mod console versions of the game.) Over the past several months, Harrison Kinsley — who goes by Sentdex on Twitter and Twitch — has developed an A.I. program that interfaces directly with his PC instance of GTA V to drive cars about as poorly as everybody else does.
GTA V has long been recognized as the definitive experience for wrecking cars and the surrounding city in an effort to antagonize and evade the police. Even players accustomed to the typical mayhem of GTA will be shocked by the insane bravado of Charles’s driving abilities — which is to say that he doesn’t have any whatsoever.
Charles is a “convolutional neural network” that uses “deep learning” to make decisions based on single frames of input at a time. Basically, Charles sees a pixelated version of what we see during the stream and makes decisions — albeit very poor ones — based on that input, veering away from obstacles or towards more open spaces (which often leads him to veer right into the ocean).
Unfortunately, Charles has absolutely zero memory to help him out with these decisions, so he can’t learn from his many, many mistakes. That might explain why his specialty seems to be rear-ending vans at full speed, getting stuck against trees, and generally just tearing it up until his car explodes or drowns. Its developer hopes to implement memory in the future to improve its driving.
“Charlie, fight for your dreams!” one Twitch commenter said. That might prove difficult for the A.I. if its dreams include a clean driving record.
Watch Charles evade police (or not) and cause millions of dollars worth of damage in a fake city on Twitch right now, where he’ll be streaming 24/7 for the time being.