Sci-tech

Google's AI became the world's best chess player in just four hours

Google's AI became the world's best chess player in just four hours

Chess has always been used to test the ability of artificial intelligence because the game's rigid structure is ideal for programming a computer with rules, and then letting it run its own tests against those rules.

"The games AlphaZero played show it can calculate some incredibly creative positional bombs, the depth of which are far beyond anything humans or chess computers have come up with", said David Kramaley, who runs chess education site Chessable, according to The Telegraph.

Some publications are reporting that AlphaZero "taught itself how to play [chess] in under four hours", but that's not entirely accurate. Playing against open source software Stockfish, 2016's Top Chess Engine Championship, the DeepMind program was able to win or draw all of the 100 games of chess played.

In its one-on-one tournament against Stockfish 8, AlphaZero won all 25 games when it played as white, while winning three and drawing 72 games when playing as black-a fascinating result for chess theorists who have long known about white's supreme first mover advantage.

AlphaZero was also pitted against its sibling, AlphaGo, which was also modified to play chess.

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By contrast, AlphaGo Zero's predecessors learned how to play the game in part by watching moves made by human players.

"It will no doubt revolutionise the game, but think about how this could be applied outside chess". DeepMind's past successes have largely centered around the system's ability to learn complex strategy games and subsequently trounce human opponents. This was believed to help the fledgling software improve its game.

But it took AlphaZero less than two months to best even that achievement. Starting from a blank slate, and armed with nothing more than a reinforcement learning algorithm, a neural net, and the pieces on the board for input, AlphaZero plays itself over and over again, refining its skills with each passing match. All in all, this allows the AI to understand and solve a broader range of problems. It was also able to master earlier versions of itself at Go, a Chinese board game, after eight hours of self-training, winning 60 out of 100 games.

The research has not been peer reviewed yet. But for now, one thing is certain: AlphaZero made a lot of waves in the chess community.

The details about the Google's feat were published on the Arvix website of the Cornell University.


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