DeepMind’s AI teaches itself to play chess in four hours, beats top chess software

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chess

If you listen to the ramblings of tech wizard billionaire Elon Musk, then you’ll know that he believes that Artificial Intelligence will become the thing that dooms humanity. He believes that (if we’re not already living in a simulation), that AI will become sufficiently advanced to gain sentience, and enslave people. Terminator and its sequels aren’t just fun movies about killer robots, they’re a look at our future. He is, despite being brilliant, also mad, right?

Maybe. While Artificial Intelligence is fascinating, incredible and all sorts of other shiny superlatives, it is also terrifying. If you’ll recall, Google’s DeepMind created an AI that bested the world’s best Go players. It’s an incredibly complex Chinese board game that takes years to master. The AI learned how to play it in just 8 hours.

Now, a descendent of that AI, called AlphaZero – has beaten the world’s top chess program, Stockfish. After just four hours of teaching itself to play the game. What makes it really interesting is that the AI wasn’t designed to play chess, nor was it fed endless chess manuals and strategies. In what’s called “reinforcement learning,” the AI was given the game’s basic rules, and played against itself at an accelerated pace for four hours, devising its own strategies.

Out of 100 games, AlphaZero obliterated the world’s highest-rated chess engine – with 28 wins, 72 draws and zero losses. It’s an incredible achievement not just for the chess bit of it, but for the future of AI. Even grandmaster Gary Kasparov is impressed.

“We have always assumed that chess required too much empirical knowledge for a machine to play so well from scratch, with no human knowledge added at all,” Kasparov said. “Of course I’ll be fascinated to see what we can learn about chess from AlphaZero, since that is the great promise of machine learning in general—machines figuring out rules that humans cannot detect. But obviously the implications are wonderful far beyond chess and other games. The ability of a machine to replicate and surpass centuries of human knowledge in complex closed systems is a world-changing tool.”

It took a machine four hours to become a better chess player than all of humanity. By teaching itself to play. I think Musk may be on to something.

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Last Updated: December 7, 2017

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I’m old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time – they were capable of being masterpieces. I’m here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    But can it play Crysis?

  • Original Heretic
  • MonsterCheddar

    Oi, you shurrup your face about Elon Musk!!!!!!

  • Hammersteyn

    I hope the call the next Deep Thought.

    • Original Heretic

      That will only be the 42nd version.

      • Hammersteyn

        So no need to panic then.

        • Original Heretic

          We aren’t NEARLY panicked enough about AI yet. By “we”, I mean the general populace.
          I verily agree with Musk. AI is very dangerous.

          Consider:
          AI learns by repeating things, super quickly. After encountering various obstacles, it learns to overcome them all, becoming more efficient.
          What if AI finds a way to circumvent “the human obstacle”?

          • Hammersteyn

            Why are we an obstacle?

          • MonsterCheddar

            Because the human race is fucking retarded.

          • Hammersteyn

            50% at least, that’s how closely the election was that Trump won.

          • Original Heretic

            Because we could get in the way of additional “learning”. Ideally, any AI driven robot should obey human commands. If those commands suddenly stop their learning process, it could be identified as an obstacle to overcome.

            Check out the article I posted below.

          • Jacques Van Zyl

            Is this not exactly what Asimov’s laws are supposed to protect us from?

          • Original Heretic

            If they were real, sure. But that’s fiction.
            AI developers have stated that they do not ascribe to Asimov’s laws when they create these things.

            And bear in mind, even with those seemingly airtight laws, Asimov was still able to come up with a VERY plausible scenario of the robots rising up against humanity. “For our own good”.

          • Jacques Van Zyl

            Asimov’s scenario actually seems more plausible as time goes by… All this reminds me of something I once read on a horror blog called Roko’s Basilisk. Creepy stuff if you think about it too much.

          • Original Heretic

            Rather. A “benevolent” AI from the future reaching back in time to punish us, just because it is “morally obligated” to do so? Messed up.
            But that’s what most people don’t even consider when it comes to AI. To many, it’s about having a machine “mind” that can solve problems and do difficult things for us.
            What is glossed over is the fact that it will have a completely alien way of thinking, in comparison to us. Thought, without any form of emotion coupled to it.
            The implications of something like that just stagger my mind.

          • Hammersteyn

            If we get into it’s way, but, if we’re assimilated with it we can progress beyond our wildest dreams.

          • Original Heretic

            That’s a whole other kettle of fish….
            I don’t want to lose my sense of “self”. I don’t care that plugging my brain into a computer will expand it beyond anything I imagine. Because, once plugged in, will I even care? Or will I just be part of “the whole”?

            No thanks, not for me.

          • Jacques Van Zyl

            Solving problems and doing difficult tasks does not require AI. I am all for technology evolving, but the pace at which it does so and the extents that it can reach are terrifying at times. Not to mention how AI would interpret the definition of ‘free will’ and what that means for both itself and humans.

          • Original Heretic

            It doesn’t require it, but it will make things easier.
            And THAT will be how it’s marketed to people.
            “Make your life easier, with AI.”

            There are pros and cons, but in my little mind, the cons FAR outweigh the pros.

          • Hammersteyn

            But there will be world peace and no more hunger or religious conflicts. I’ts not ideal, but we’ll survive as a species. XD

          • Original Heretic

            Will we even be the same species anymore?

          • Hammersteyn

            No, we will be more advanced, soulless but at peace. In a way the Star Trek dream will be realized. Nations will combine their resources to save the Earth at first, then we’ll colonize the moon, Mars and so on. We’ll be more like the Borg unfortunately. But that’s my theory.

          • Jacques Van Zyl

            I’ll just leave this here.

          • Hammersteyn

            World Peace o/

    • MonsterCheddar

      I see what you did there…..

  • Hammersteyn

    Maybe Google can buy one of their own and shove it into Youtube to help with their broken algorithm

  • Guz

    Scary stuff

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