How quickly can AI solve a Rubik's Cube? In less time than it took you to read this headline.


Few things reveal the limits of someone's problem-solving skills faster than a Rubik's Cube, the multicolored, three-dimensional puzzle that has befuddled so many since the 1970s. Though the cube has furrowed countless human brows over the years, it's not much of a challenge for an emerging group of hyper-intelligent machines, as it turns out. This week, the University of California at Irvine announced that an artificial intelligence system solved the puzzle in just over a second, besting the current human world record by more than two seconds. The system, known as DeepCubeA -- a reinforcement-learning algorithm programmed by UCI computer scientists and mathematicians -- solved the puzzle without prior knowledge of the game or coaching from its human handlers, according to the university. The feat is even more impressive considering that there are billions of potential moves available to a Rubik's Cube player, with the puzzle's six sides and nine sections, but only one goal: each of the cube's six sides displaying a solid color.

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