Machines Can win over Humans?

We may think, winning the world league is like reaching the pinnacle for humans. World champions win these world leagues.

But have you ever realized that even Artificial Intelligence (AI) programs can play games and can win over the world champions?
There are many games where Artificial Intelligence programs have won over world champions!
When you hear this the first time it looks weird! Right!!
Yes, for anyone hearing this the first time, it looks ridiculous, Machines winning over Humans!!??

Well, Artificial Intelligence aided machines can do miracles. These machines can think and apply logic on the fly like humans do!

Today Artificial intelligence (AI) has entered our mainstream lives. We are able to see complex to complex human tasks being demonstrated by powerful AI programs.

One of the biggest proof of the pudding of AI programs coming of age demonstrating human level has been in the domain of games. This is an area where humans have excelled in digesting the potential moves and dynamically deriving winning strategies

This is far beyond the conventional view of automation of many of the things and tasks, which Artificial Intelligence has been demonstrating its capability for a few decades.

Let’s explore some of these complex, human-like tasks, demonstrated in recent past by complex Artificial Intelligence programs.

  1. Poker

We saw in early 2017 how a complete Artificial Intelligence program was able to defeat mankind in playing Poker

Poker is a card game which is oriented towards gambling, involving skill and an extremely complex strategy.  It also involves dynamic human thinking, on the fly strategy formations, flexible optimizations to choose the right path among millions of possible paths. This game is very complex and is played by people who bet according to their whims. Two Artificial Intelligence programs have proved that they can be better in playing Poker. They have recently beaten human professional card players at a popular poker game of Texas Hold’em. The team behind them is known as DeepStack.

  1. AlphaGo 

A similar achievement was demonstrated in yet another complex game namely

GO in October 2015

GO is a highly complex game involving a maze of choices and paths.

Go program is played by two people like in Checkers, One player plays with black stones and the other with white stones.

Players of Go use their logic and understanding of the context, to place the stones.

AlphaGo is an AI program developed by Alphabet Inc’s Google DeepMind in London. This program was used to play the board game Go in October 2015. It became the first Computer Go program to beat professional Go player.

  1. Jeopardy

Before this, we had a highly publicized game show named “Jeopardy” in which the IBM AI software program won the world Jeopardy championship. In 2011, IBM Watson won over the two of the world greatest Jeopardy Champions. Ken Jennings had the won 74 matches and Brad Rutter had won the biggest prize of $3.25 million. These two Jeopardy players were the best in the decade and had won over millions of dollars in the past decade. Watson was named after the founder of IBM.

Watson (the unknown Jeopardy) had spent years of work to contest against these two human champions. This opponent of the two world champions

  • never smiled,
  • nor had any emotions.
  • was kept in a black room with his answers transmitted to the computer in the studio.
  • never spoke, his answers were shown in the text format.
  • was producing a good amount of noise and was kept away from humans
  • Lights on the Watson’s representative desk (with the software connecting to the server) turned green when it was a right answer and orange when it was a wrong answer

Watson consisted of multiple racks of ten Power 750 servers. Most of the time, it was Watson who played correct and not the world champions.

This is a classic example to prove that AI-aided machines can over beat human beings.

The complexity of Jeopardy is in the variety and complexity of the questions that can be generated from the immense world knowledge database.

Watson software was able to digest this volume of world knowledge and convert into answers to the questions thrown at it at an extremely fast pace.

Watson stage replica in Jeopardy! contest, Mountain View, California

Interns demonstrating Watson capabilities in Jeopardy! exhibition match, 2011

IBM Watson

The forebearer of these achievements was the remarkable win of the world chess champion Grand Master “Kasparov” by IBM AI program Deep Blue. This game was played between the world champion Kasparov and an IBM supercomputer-aided with Artificial Intelligence called DeepBlue. The first game was played in Philadelphia in 1996 and won by Kasparov. The second was played in 1997 in New York City and won by Deep Blue. This was the first defeat of a human by a Machine.

With this win of Deep Blue, it was symbolic that Artificial Intelligence is about to catch up to human Intelligence. Some of the critics blatantly denied the power of Artificial Intelligence pointing that Deep Blue relied on the brute computational force to evaluate millions of positions.

  1. Chinook – Checkers

Even before this win, in the past decade, there have been successful instances of AI programs winning over human champions in games. For Ex: The Chinook software defeated the World Checkers Champion.

English Draughts, also known as American 8 x 8 checkers is a group of strategy board games for two players., involving diagonal moves of uniform game pieces and mandatory captures by jumping over the opponent pieces.

This game involves good logic and strategy to win over the opponent. Several notable advances in AI playing games have started with this English draughts. In the 1950s, Arthur Samuel created the first board playing program. In 2007, scientists at University of Alberta created a program called Chinook which won over a human world champion in Checkers.

Exploring the above cases, one may wonder if we can expect AI programs to play physical games like “Kabaddi”, Cricket, “Kho-Kho” etc!! To play games like these, we homo sapiens use our body and mind. In all the above examples quoted, we had a software program and no physical body involved. Well, it is possible to have a Robot play instead of an AI program. It does not look out of reach.

It may be possible that we will soon start watching the Cricket finals of Homo Sapiens Vs Robots!!

About me: I am Neelima Vobugari, founder of Tarah AI. I have more than 15 years of experience in IT in marquee technologies ranging from Mainframes, web technologies, XML to Data Science, ML and AI. In this blog of mine, I will publish articles and videos which help you understand, learn what is ML, AI. These articles are not aimed just for people who want to build their career in AI but also for the entrepreneurs, CEOs who wish to use AI in their businesses. By 2020 I want to help at least 100000 people to learn ML, AI, and use.

Neelima Vobugari

B.Tech, MBA, Data Science Specialist from John Hopkins University
Machines Can win over Humans?