First it was chess, than Jeopardy, followed up by Go and now Poker, four games of incredible complexity crunched by AI without mercy.
FOR ALMOST THREE weeks, Dong Kim sat at a casino in Pittsburgh and played poker against a machine. But Kim wasn’t just any poker player. This wasn’t just any machine. And it wasn’t just any game of poker.
Kim, 28, is among the best players in the world. The machine, built by two computer science researchers at Carnegie Mellon, is an artificially intelligent system that runs on a Pittsburg supercomputer. And for twenty straight days, they played no-limit Texas Hold ‘Em, an especially complex form of poker in which betting strategies play out over dozens of hands.
About halfway through the competition, which ended this week, Kim started to feel like Libratus could see his cards. “I’m not accusing it of cheating,” he said. “It was just that good.” So good, in fact, that it beat Kim and three more of the world’s top human players—a first for artificial intelligence.
It gets better.
Libratus, for one, did not use neural networks. Mainly, it relied on a form of AI known as reinforcement learning, a method of extreme trial-and-error. In essence, it played game after game against itself. Google’s DeepMind lab used reinforcement learning in building AlphaGo, the system that that cracked the ancient game of Go ten years ahead of schedule, but there’s a key difference between the two systems. AlphaGo learned the game by analyzing 30 million Go moves from human players, before refining its skills by playing against itself. By contrast, Libratus learned from scratch.
End result or is it just the beginning?
"This is a landmark step for AI," said Libratus creator and Carnegie Mellon University professor Tuomas Sandholm in an email. "This is the first time that AI has been able to beat the best humans at Heads-Up No-Limit Texas Hold'em. More generally, this shows that the best AI's ability to do strategic reasoning under imperfect information has surpassed that of the best humans."
I'll take just the beginning.