DeepMind opens its ‘flagship’ lab platform to AI researchers

Shane Legg

DeepMind co-founder and chief scientist Shane Legg.


Artificial intelligence (AI) researchers around the world will soon be able to use DeepMind’s “flagship” platform to develop innovative computing systems that can learn and think for themselves.

DeepMind, which was acquired by Google for £400million in 2014, announced on Monday that it would open its “laboratory” from this week so others can try to make progress in the notoriously complex field of AI.

The company says the DeepMind Lab, which it has been using internally for some time, is a 3D game-like platform designed for agent-based AI research.

Founded in 2010, DeepMind develops artificial intelligence agents capable of mastering arcade games such as “Space Invaders”, “Pac-Man” and, more recently, the incredibly complex Chinese board game Go.

Describing the Lab platform in a blog post, DeepMind co-founder Shane Legg and DeepMind employees Charles Beattie, Joel Leibo, Stig Petersen wrote, “It is observed from a first person, through the eyes of the simulated agent Scenes are rendered in rich sci-fi style visuals Available actions allow agents to look around and move in 3D The “body” of the agent is a floating orb, it levitates and moves by activating thrusters in the desired direction of movement, and it has a camera that moves around the main sphere like a ball joint following rotation actions.

“For example, tasks include collecting fruit, navigating mazes, traversing dangerous passages while avoiding falling off cliffs, bouncing through space using launch pads to move between platforming, the game of laser tag, and the rapid learning and memorization of procedurally generated random environments.”

DeepMind Lab


The DeepMind Lab aims to combine several different areas of AI research in a single environment. Researchers will be able to test their AI agent’s abilities in terms of navigation, memory and 3D vision, while determining their level of planning and strategy. “Each is considered an exploratory research question in its own right,” DeepMind wrote in the blog post. “Bringing them all into one platform, as we have done, represents a significant new challenge for the field.”

The lab can be adapted and expanded, with the ability to create new “levels” that can be “customized with game logic, item pickups, custom sightings, level restarts, reward programs, in-game messages and more”.

“We believe this has already had a significant impact on our thinking about many aspects of intelligence, both natural and artificial,” the blog post authors wrote. “However, our efforts so far have only scratched the surface of what is possible in DeepMind Lab. There remain opportunities for significant contributions to be made in a number of mostly untouched research areas, now available through DeepMind Lab.”

DeepMind said code for the DeepMind Lab platform will be released on Github this week.

James G. Williams