In 1950, Claude Shannon published his seminal work on how to program a computer to play chess. Since then, developing game-playing programs that can compete with (and even exceed) the abilities of the human world champions has been a long-sought-after goal of the AI research community. In Shannon's time, it would have seemed unlikely that only a scant 50 years would be needed to develop programs that play world-class backgammon, checkers, chess, Othello, and Scrabble. These remarkable achievements are the result of a better understanding of the problems being solved, major algorithmic insights, and tremendous advances in hardware technology. Computer games research is one of the important success stories of AI. This article reviews the past successes, current projects, and future research directions for AI using computer games as a research test bed.
AlphaGo, a largely self-taught Go-playing AI, last night won the fifth and final game in a match held in Seoul, South Korea, against that country's Lee Sedol. Sedol is one of the greatest modern players of the ancient Chinese game. The final score was 4 games to 1. Thus falls the last and computationally hardest game that programmers have taken as a test of machine intelligence. Chess, AI's original touchstone, fell to the machines 19 years ago, but Go had been expected to last for many years to come. The sweeping victory means far more than the US 1 million prize, which Google's London-based acquisition, DeepMind, says it will give to charity.
Scientists at the University of Alberta are cracking away at the complexities of artificial intelligence with their new "DeepStack" system, which can not only play a round of poker with you, but walk away with all of your money. This new technology builds upon the legacy of systems like IBM's Deep Blue, which was the first program to beat a world champion, Gary Kasparov, at chess in 1996. As Michael Bowling, co-author of the research and leader of the Computer Poker Research Group at Alberta, puts it: poker is the next big step for designing AI. In a game of Heads Up No Limit poker, DeepStack was able to win against professional poker players at a rate of 49 big blinds per 100. "We are winning by 49 per 100, that's like saying whatever the players were doing was not that much more effective than if they just folded every hand," Bowling tells Inverse.
In 1997 the IBM computer Deep Blue beat Gary Kasparov, the reigning world chess champion. Nineteen years later Google's AlphaGo beat Go master Lee Se-dol. Both are landmark moments for computing and artificial intelligence. Both were the product of some of the world's smartest people writing cutting edge software. In parallel, AI has become a game-changer in business, for example transforming the way we interact with technology and information through Alexa and Siri.