Dota 2 AI
A security staff member at The International Dota 2 Championships holds up a plug-in USB stick for an AI bot programmed to play esports. Dota 2 master Dendi stands onstage in the background, waiting to do battle in Seattle. (OpenAI via YouTube)

The Dota 2 esports tournament in Seattle, known as The International, demonstrates how video games have become hugely popular team sports — and today alpha geek Elon Musk took the occasion to tout a different kind of team effort.

Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, is also a big supporter of OpenAI, a nonprofit research company aimed at boosting artificial intelligence architectures and applications that benefit humanity.

Today, OpenAI showed off an AI bot that vanquished Danylo “Dendi” Ishutin, one of the world’s top Dota 2 players, in a one-vs.-one demonstration match.

“OK, this guy is scary,” Ishutin said as he battled the bot’s minions. The crowd at KeyArena groaned when the bot crushed Ishutin’s game avatars.

Ishutin was beaten badly in the first match, forfeited a second match, and refused to play a third.

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He’s not the only player to feel the burn.

“Over the past week, our bot was undefeated against many top professionals including SumaiL (top 1v1 player in the world) and Arteezy (top overall player in the world),” OpenAI said in a blog post recapping the action.

The Open AI bot built up its video-game skills not by processing the results of human-vs.-human contests, but by playing itself over and over again.

“This is a step toward building more general systems that can learn really complicated, messy and important real-world tasks, like being a surgeon,” OpenAI’s co-founder and chief technology officer, Greg Brockman, said after the match.

In Musk’s eyes, OpenAI’s win was an achievement bigger than Google DeepMind’s development of AlphaGo, the AI bot that has bested the world’s top players of the ancient game of Go:

Musk paid tribute to the OpenAI team, and also gave a shout-out to Microsoft Azure, which provided the platform for the Dota 2 bot:

But tonight’s Twitter conversation wasn’t all fun and games: Musk engaged in a back-and-forth discussion about the potential risks posed by AI – a topic he’s often touched on. Along the way, he picked up on a reference to Iain M. Banks, the science-fiction author who wrote sentient starships into his novels:

To top it all off, Musk joined in on a “Game of Thrones” riff:

Speaking of White Walkers … creating AI bots capable of beating humans at Warcraft-style video games might seem just a little too close for comfort. Maybe OpenAI should be working on virtual dragonglass instead.

Read more: Scenes from Valve’s $24M Dota 2 tournament

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