Tech

Google's AI became the world's best chess player in just four hours

Google's AI became the world's best chess player in just four hours

DeepMind described this feat as being "superhuman". In a closed-door event, AlphaZero defeated Stockfish in 28 out of 100 games, tying the other 72 matches, ending the bout with zero losses. In 1997, the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue beat world champion chess player Garry Kasparov by computing and evaluating positions that were programmed into the machine with the help of chess masters, but AlphaZero is different because it had to teach itself the positions to begin with.

According to Wired it took AlphaZero just four hours to become a chess champion, two hours for shogi, and eight hours to defeat the world's greatest Go-playing computer program.

AlphaZero developed its skills completely from scratch: as researchers write in a a pre-printed, unreviewed paper, the program was given no knowledge of chess except for the basic rules. The Go victory was, so far, considered the bleeding edge of its ability, but DeepMind has kept working on and refining this AI, culminating in a startling success in October: a new, fully autonomous version of the AI, which only learned by playing against itself, never humans, bested all its previous incarnations.

By contrast, AlphaGo Zero's predecessors partly learned how to play the game by watching moves made by human players.

"What we're seeing here is a model free from human bias and presuppositions".

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"It's like an alien civilisation inventing its own mathematics", computer scientist Nick Hynes from MIT told Gizmodo in October. "The general trajectory in DeepMind seems to be able to solve a problem and then demonstrate it can really ramp up performance, and that's very impressive".

The research has yet to be peer... While Elon Musk's fear-mongering over the potential threat of rampant AI or Facebook's efforts to employ artificial intelligence to moderate content might be more attention-grabbing, Google recently had their own AI victory.

The current AlphaZero takes the reinforcement learning of AlphaGo Zero and uses it in a broader approach.

"I always wondered how it would be if a superior species landed on Earth and showed us how they played chess", grandmaster Peter Nielsen told BBC.


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