(Bloomberg) -- Androids may not, as science fiction writer Philip Dick once posited, dream of electric sheep. But the newest artificial intelligence system from Google’s DeepMind division does indeed dream, metaphorically at least, about finding apples in a maze.

Researchers at DeepMind wrote in a paper published online Thursday that they had achieved a leap in the speed and performance of a machine learning system. It was accomplished by, among other things, imbuing technology with attributes that function in a way similar to how animals are thought to dream.

The paper explains how DeepMind’s new system -- named Unsupervised Reinforcement and Auxiliary Learning agent, or Unreal -- learned to master a three-dimensional maze game called Labyrinth 10 times faster than the existing best AI software. It can now play the game at 87 percent the performance of expert human players, the DeepMind researchers said.

"Our agent is far quicker to train, and requires a lot less experience from the world to train, making it much more data efficient," DeepMind researchers Max Jaderberg and Volodymyr Mnih jointly wrote via e-mail. They said Unreal would allow DeepMind’s researchers to experiment with new ideas much faster because of the reduced time it takes to train the system.

DeepMind has already seen its AI products achieve highly respected results teaching itself to play video games, notably the retro Atari title Breakout.

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