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Google's DeepMind AI Becomes a Superhuman Chess Player In a Few Hours (theverge.com) 91

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: In a new paper published this week, DeepMind describes how a descendant of the AI program that first conquered the board game Go has taught itself to play a number of other games at a superhuman level. After eight hours of self-play, the program bested the AI that first beat the human world Go champion; and after four hours of training, it beat the current world champion chess-playing program, Stockfish. Then for a victory lap, it trained for just two hours and polished off one of the world's best shogi-playing programs named Elmo (shogi being a Japanese version of chess that's played on a bigger board). One of the key advances here is that the new AI program, named AlphaZero, wasn't specifically designed to play any of these games. In each case, it was given some basic rules (like how knights move in chess, and so on) but was programmed with no other strategies or tactics. It simply got better by playing itself over and over again at an accelerated pace -- a method of training AI known as "reinforcement learning."

Google's DeepMind AI Becomes a Superhuman Chess Player In a Few Hours

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  • by IWantMoreSpamPlease ( 571972 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2017 @04:23PM (#55690753) Homepage Journal

    The only winning move, is not to play

    • by Killall -9 Bash ( 622952 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2017 @04:24PM (#55690765)
      I for one welcome 99% unemployment.
      • by Shotgun ( 30919 )

        Why would you expect 99% unemployment? This AI will never be able to:

        -fix your plumbing
        -rack you servers
        -move your furniture
        -change your spark plugs
        -etc, so forth, and so on.

        • by sycodon ( 149926 )

          Don't be so sure [popsci.com]

          As soon as a humanoid robot [boston.com] is perfected, the only value people will have is knowing where the aim points are.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          This one? Probably not.

          You really think humans are so special that no other AI could ever do all those things? Better hope the AIs never hunt people for sport in order by Slashdot ID.

          • Better hope the AIs never hunt people for sport in order by Slashdot ID.

            Well, hopefully they will start in reverse order. :P

        • So you aspire to be a mechanical actuator?

          At any rate, how are you sure that an AI won't eventually be able to teach itself mechanical control system skills that rival humans? Mice and birds with pea-sized brains are able to navigate the physical world rather effectively.

        • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2017 @04:44PM (#55690943) Homepage Journal

          Why would you expect 99% unemployment? This AI will never be able to: [optimism redacted]

          No, not this one. Not even the next one. The one after that? Or after that?

          Eventually, they will. The question is simply how long will that be. Right now, the ML pace continues to accelerate. Soon, they'll be stacking one skill upon another. The skill to walk. The skill to understand plumbing joints and leaks. The skill to know home construction. Etc.

          It's coming. That whole "will never be able to" business... that's not going to pan out for anyone.

        • Re:Strange game (Score:4, Insightful)

          by SethJohnson ( 112166 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2017 @04:49PM (#55690971) Homepage Journal
          Go ahead and post your ad on TaskRabbit seeking candidates to come over and fix your plumbing, rack your servers, etc. A hundred people show up at your door offering to perform these jobs for obscenely cheap rates. To identify the best candidate, you ask each what their prior work experience has been that makes them suited for the plumbing, spark plugs, and so on.

          Candiate 1: "I traded stocks on Wall Street for 20 years prior to having my job automated."

          Candiate 2: "I operated a fork lift in a warehouse for 8 years before the facility was automated."

          Candiate 3: "I drove semi trucks for 15 years before the robots came in."

          And so on.

          The thing about AI and automation is that as human workers are displaced, they shift to job types that are financially unattractive to automate-- like those categories you cite. With the flood of displaced workers in these job areas, wages are diluted. "A plumber always makes a good living" will no longer be a true statement as the plumber job market becomes oversaturated by workers displaced by automation.
          • The thing about AI and automation is that as human workers are displaced, they shift to job types that are financially unattractive to automate-- like those categories you cite.

            Those jobs aren't financially unattractive to automate, they're still a way beyond our current level of tech.

    • The only winning move, is not to play

      When algorithms will be clever at societal things instead of games, it will become more difficult not to "play".

  • by ranton ( 36917 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2017 @04:24PM (#55690759)

    Please have it learn how to play modern strategy games like Starcraft and Civilization so we can have computer players which don't suck without massive bonuses which change the dynamic of the game.

  • Super Human? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2017 @04:27PM (#55690789)

    Reinforcement Learning systems have a tenancies of creating "Superstition" artifacts, were actions that may not create a net positive or negative are used over when the net outcome is positive. It often creates less than ideal outcome, but still it works. So this could mean a really long chess game with non-strategic moves, as the most optimal path, may not be enforced correctly.

    • Re:Super Human? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Baron_Yam ( 643147 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2017 @04:32PM (#55690831)

      >, were actions that may not create a net positive or negative are used over when the net outcome is positive.

      Which is still a net improvement over humans, who may stick with actions that are actually net negative despite proof if they initially miscategorized them as positive.

      What they should get the AI to do to minimize such artifacts is have a meta-analysis going where the positive associations are re-evaluated whenever the overall victory is judged to not be at stake in the event the action was correctly evaluated in the first place.

    • "a really long chess game with non-strategic moves, as the most optimal path, may not be enforced correctly."

      Well, at least with humans, pushing a game very long will stress the other opponent in to making a mistake if they're not as well equipped for it as you are. That's not sub-optimal, just longer. If you can't beat them straight up in logic, then you switch to alternate tactics.

      Now, this may not apply to an AI as they don't tire like we do.. However, it's entirely possible, that if their logic systems

  • It simply got better by playing itself over and over again at an accelerated pace -- a method of training AI known as "reinforcement learning."

    Like it was playing Global Thermonuclear War with zero players...

    LK

  • And next: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by forkfail ( 228161 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2017 @04:44PM (#55690939)

    The world's gonna be an... interesting... place once someone merges this sort of code with virus code.

  • If a program can play itself hundred, thousands, millions of times perfecting the proper moves, is that really the AI we are looking for? Or is that just a highly iterative modeling engine?

    How about an AI, that never played a game, you give it the rules, and then never have run a single iteration figure out how to win the first game it plays?
    • Re:Is it AI? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by suutar ( 1860506 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2017 @05:33PM (#55691301)

      Well, the program playing itself is not really qualitatively different than "if I do this, and he does that, and I do the other, and he does........ then I win!"; it's just carried out to more steps than a human would (because a human can't go that far). Therefore, any approach I can conceive of to go from knowing the rules to knowing how to win is pretty much equivalent to "running some iterations". Even the ability of human chess masters to perceive the board as a pattern instead of just a bunch of individual piece positions is probably approximated by something in the program.

      Given that, I am unable to come up with a mechanism to go from "knows the rules" to "knows how to win a game" without doing something equivalent to "running iterations"...

      • by CHK6 ( 583097 )
        Thank you for an intelligent response. If we define AI as a program that can model all N possible given a set of rules, does that make it intelligent? As a good example I was Sr. ODBC development tester for HP. I wrote a piece of code that took all of the APIs and parameters and modeled their calling sequence and returns of the OBDC protocol. The testing engine then developed all permutations outlined in the models and rules set forth. In all, there was just under a million different tests and validations a
        • by suutar ( 1860506 )

          Ah, I see what you mean. No, an exhaustive search algorithm isn't what I'd call "intelligent". But an exhaustive search for chess would take a lot longer than a few hours, and a process that develops some sense of "this move will be bad" without having to try it every single time does seem, while not necessarily "intelligent", to be at least one step up from brute force, because it is making decisions based on, well, not unknown values of variables (not much in chess is invisible) but on situations not quit

    • So like a human, you tell the person the rules, they give them zero thought, and play zero games, but are an expert? That wouldn't be SO. That would be Magical Intelligence.
    • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

      Because humans don't do that. Why would we expect AI to do it? At least you don't have to worry: you're so illogical, no program could ever replace you. Obsolete, yes. Replace, no.

  • Wake me when it can decide, on its own without human directive, that it wants to play chess in the first place.
    • Thank God you will be sleeping for a *long* time. We have enough stupid asshats on Slashdot that want to discuss racism and politics while claiming all things involving technology are boring.
    • what the fuck is it with people feigning absurd levels of majestic boredom about an article on a piece of tech that blows out of the water anything in the field from 3 years ago.

      • I'm not bored. I'm pointing out that intelligence requires awareness and motivation that is not programmed by an external source. What we're talking about is not intelligence. We're not going to crack that nut until we stop looking at machine learning as the same as intelligence. What we have in this article is advancement within the field of machine learning, not advancement in artificial intelligence.
  • vs. what was Stockfish running on?
    • It's in the paper. AlphaZero was running on a computer with 4 TPUs, while Stockfish was running on a 64-core computer. They are not directly comparable, but Stockfish on a 64-core computer is a formidable opponent.
  • Is it open source?
  • I'd love to see if this AI can learn to play a more complicated game like Super Mario World given only: 1) The pixels displayed as input. 2) Fail conditions (when a life is lost). 3) Basic map navigation rules (bonus if these can be eliminated and the game can be judged only on whether or not it gets a game over or completes the final level). 4) Valid controller inputs. I do wonder how this AI would translate from the turn-based world of Chess and Go to realtime.
  • I don't think the principal difference between shogi and chess is board size. In Shogi, you can place the pieces you capture onto the board as your own pieces. Having paratroopers is a lot different.

Time to take stock. Go home with some office supplies.

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