AlphaZero, the game-playing AI created by Google sibling DeepMind, has beaten the world's best chess-playing computer program, having taught itself how to play in under four hours. The repurposed AI, which has repeatedly beaten the world's best Go players as AlphaGo, has been generalised so that it can now learn other games. It took just four hours to learn the rules to chess before beating the world champion chess program, Stockfish 8, in a 100-game match up. Artificial Intelligence has various definitions, but in general it means a program that uses data to build a model of some aspect of the world. This model is then used to make informed decisions and predictions about future events.
Computers can beat humans at increasingly complex games, including chess and Go. However, these programs are typically constructed for a particular game, exploiting its properties, such as the symmetries of the board on which it is played. Silver et al. developed a program called AlphaZero, which taught itself to play Go, chess, and shogi (a Japanese version of chess) (see the Editorial, and the Perspective by Campbell). AlphaZero managed to beat state-of-the-art programs specializing in these three games. The ability of AlphaZero to adapt to various game rules is a notable step toward achieving a general game-playing system.
Chess is an antique, about 1,500 years old, according to most historians. As a result, its evolution seems essentially complete, a hoary game now largely trudging along. That's not to say that there haven't been milestones. In medieval Europe, for example, they made the squares on the board alternate black and white. In the 15th century, the queen got her modern powers.1