Computers have raced toward the future for decades, starting as manual punch cards and now turning the tides on how all of humanity operates.
Artificial intelligence is just one field in computing, referring not just to the mechanical guts of our machines but how we can teach machines to reason, strategize, and even delay their actions to seem and behave more, well, human. As experts have made more and more powerful AIs, they’ve sought ways to demonstrate how good those AIs are, which can be challenging to do in a relatable, quantifiable way.
Enter the classic game format. Games are tailor-made for AI demonstrations for multiple reasons, as many games are “solvable” (meaning AI can truly master them, mathematically speaking) and their contexts (fast, multifaceted, strategic) can allow programmers to show off truly multidimensional reasoning approaches.
To illustrate this, PokerListings assembled a list of breakthrough gaming wins for AI, from traditional board games to imperfect information games to video games. The games listed here have little in common sometimes apart from the fact that AI can now beat human players at them all. They range from classic analog games like chess and Go to texas holdem and today’s most popular multiplayer esports video games.
Keep reading to learn more about the eight significant instances when AIs beat human players at their own game.
Poker is the collective name for a bunch of card games of different styles that are typically played in contexts where players bet tokens or money. One of the major challenges with poker is that the computer—or any player—has imperfect information, meaning entire events transpire that just one player knows about and doesn’t share. Unlike perfect information games like Connect Four and checkers, poker doesn’t make all the pieces that are in play visible at once.
In computing terms, imperfect information translates to an amorphous black box with mystery contents. But in 2015, a computer algorithm called CFR+ broke the black box. Texas Hold ‘Em is among one of the most popular poker games, and a variation called heads-up limit has only two players, which makes “solving” the game with a computer simpler than when there are more players in the mix. The CFR+ algorithm “solved” heads-up limit poker, meaning the computer will likely be able to beat almost any human player.
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