Hi all. It’s Josh, the writer, and this is exactly the point.
There are a bunch of other minor details that I didn’t have room to fit in here, but seem to keep re-appearing as misunderstandings in conversations about AlphaStar that make this all the more impressive:
*Its APM is capped to approximate human levels. From Oriol Vinyals in their reddit AMA: “We set a maximum of 600 APMs over 5 second periods, 400 over 15 second periods, 320 over 30 second periods, and 300 over 60 second period.”
*Its “reaction time,” to intake what is happening on the screen, communicate it back to the system, process it and make a decision, send the response back is 350 ms, which is actually lower than human pro players.
*Yes, the version that won 10-0 uses the screen in a huge zoomed out way that a human can not. However, when they tested where AlphaStar’s “focus” was, it was refocusing on different areas at approximately the same rate that pros do. And, the version that MaNa beat in the live game, that has been trained to have to use the camera more like a human, was less experienced and still only had an estimated MMR rating a couple hundred points below the zoomed out full screen version.
Finally, people had previously built Brood War bots with ridiculous APM and unit control, who could do wild things with their armies, and they still got crushed by decent human pros because their decision making was so poor. Watching AlphaStar do things like decide when to engage or disengage from fights, micro skills aside, is light years beyond anything we’ve seen before.
Thanks to everyone who read the piece.