Researchers at Washington State have touched on a very interesting, wholly unique way of enhancing machine learning: video games.

The plan is to have one computer show another computer how to play Pac-Man in a way that does not involve simply moving the programming from one machine to the other.

“We designed algorithms for advice giving, and we are trying to figure out when our advice makes the biggest difference,” said AI professor Matthew E. Taylor. The teaching computer “shows” the other computer how to play “well” i.e. not get eaten by ghosts and how to grab the most points. The student-teacher pairs also taught each other how to play StarCraft and, at points, the student ended up being better than the teacher.

Rather unfortunate timing for such a release, isn’t it? Most people are probably going to think this a simple April Fools’ prank; it’s not.