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Old 02-25-2014, 02:42 PM
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Games people are better at than computers


Computers are now better than people at Chess, for example, but what are some games people are still better (at)?
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Old 02-25-2014, 02:46 PM
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arimaa
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Old 02-25-2014, 02:47 PM
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The traditional answer is Go.. That article is a little old but I'm not aware of any breakthroughs since then.
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Old 02-25-2014, 02:47 PM
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Twister.
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Old 02-25-2014, 02:53 PM
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Civilization IV. Even at Deity level, where the computer's given totally unfair advantages, a highly skilled player can defeat the computer nearly all the time.

And I specify CivIV because the A.I. in Civilization 5 is a total fucking joke.
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Old 02-25-2014, 02:55 PM
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There's an XKCD for that
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Old 02-25-2014, 03:15 PM
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Twister.
Mmm...let's assume robotics are included.
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Old 02-25-2014, 03:29 PM
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Dungeons and Dragons.
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Old 02-25-2014, 03:48 PM
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The traditional answer is Go.. That article is a little old but I'm not aware of any breakthroughs since then.
This one is pretty interesting. Computers generally play turn based games with graph or tree searches*. This means the efficiency is largely based on how many "successor states" exist to any possible state, meaning: given the current way the board looks, after this turn, how many different ways can the board look? Chess starts out with, if I'm counting right, 20 successor states (move any pawn forward either one or two spaces = 16 + move knights two different ways each = 4 = 20). This number raises and lowers depending on the board, but generally it's pretty good. Of course, there are a ton of states still, so we introduce little rules to nudge it into trying certain paths of computation instead of others.

Go's successor states are... obnoxious. Go is played by dropping a single stone on an unoccupied square on a 19x19 board. The very naive calculation gives 3^361 states (each position can be black, white, or empty). That's total states, but given how the game is played, one can see even the number of immediate successors is immense.

Really good tuning of which states to analyze isn't just helpful, as in Chess, but necessary to even make the problem of beating a two year-old tractable.

This is, of course, assuming we don't use a different method to make a good Go playing computer such as machine learning. I'm speaking purely of the traditional approaches we use for other games.

*I'm lumping things like minimax in "tree searches"

Last edited by Jragon; 02-25-2014 at 03:52 PM.
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Old 02-25-2014, 03:59 PM
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Rugby?
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Old 02-25-2014, 04:11 PM
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Rugby?
Sigh...

Just imagine we took an able-bodied human and replaced his brain with a computer.
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Old 02-25-2014, 04:22 PM
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Sigh...

Just imagine we took an able-bodied human and replaced his brain with a computer.
Nah. All we'd have to do is invoke via Bluetooth the James Tiberius Kirk manoeuvre and tell him/it to compute pi to the last decimal place.

Last edited by Kenm; 02-25-2014 at 04:27 PM.
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Old 02-25-2014, 04:48 PM
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Sigh...

Just imagine we took an able-bodied human and replaced his brain with a computer.
What does that mean, though? We don't have any software that can run a human body, let alone manage and make sense of the sensory inputs. It's only pretty recently that we've had bipedal robots that can run, or process a video feed and navigate a real environment.

Pretty much everything required for rugby is still a hard problem for computers.
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Old 02-25-2014, 05:42 PM
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Texas Hold 'em, considering the incomplete information.
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Old 02-25-2014, 05:49 PM
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I would be absolutely amazed if the best computers couldn't consistently beat the best humans at Texas Hold 'Em. Yes, the information is incomplete, but it's incomplete for the humans, too. The computer, meanwhile, can calculate all the probabilities for the missing information instantly.
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Old 02-25-2014, 05:57 PM
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I would be absolutely amazed if the best computers couldn't consistently beat the best humans at Texas Hold 'Em. Yes, the information is incomplete, but it's incomplete for the humans, too. The computer, meanwhile, can calculate all the probabilities for the missing information instantly.
In the long run you would be correct, but if the thread is about a human beating a computer in a game of Texas hold-em in a single series of games, then my money is on the human.

The computer knows all the probabilities, and thus will play very predictably. The human will not.
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Old 02-25-2014, 06:01 PM
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Chronos- No sooner than I typed than I realized you're obviously correct.
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Old 02-25-2014, 08:29 PM
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In the long run you would be correct, but if the thread is about a human beating a computer in a game of Texas hold-em in a single series of games, then my money is on the human.

The computer knows all the probabilities, and thus will play very predictably. The human will not.
Don't think this is correct. Just like computers can have a huge database of previous chess games played by the opponent, they can have strategies used by opponents in Hold-em. The program doesn't have to be entirely based on probability.
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Old 02-25-2014, 10:39 PM
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One interesting case is the Social Ultimatum Game, a modification of the Ultimatum Game. The Ultimatum Game is a boring game theory game, there are two steps: player 1 is given $10 and must make an offer to player 2 of some portion of the money. If player 2 accepts, they get the proposed amount and you get what remains, so if you offer $3, and they accept, you get $7 and they get $3. If they refuse the offer, nobody gets anything.

The optimal strategy as player 1 is to propose $1 and the optimal strategy as player 2 is to accept any value other than $0 because it's better than nothing. Usually people will offer far more fair trades, or irrationally reject poor trades even though it ends the game. Computers are very good at acting rationally on this. What they suck at is an extended version of the game with multiple rounds and more than 2 people, because it allows people to hold grudges and be nice to each other.

That paper is about making an agent who can, essentially, learn to form alliances and strategically snub people. It actually does fairly well after an extended period of learning, but it's still not quite as good as people are.

I think this characterizes a lot of the troubles computers have with poker. They need to have an internal model of bluffing and models of how good/bad others are at bluffing. If you could get a computer to model that on top of their ability to quickly compute probabilities, you could get an exceedingly good one. It's not a trivial problem, but it will probably be solved eventually.

Last edited by Jragon; 02-25-2014 at 10:41 PM.
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Old 02-26-2014, 03:09 AM
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How about Bridge?
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Old 02-26-2014, 04:24 AM
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Civilization IV. Even at Deity level, where the computer's given totally unfair advantages, a highly skilled player can defeat the computer nearly all the time.

And I specify CivIV because the A.I. in Civilization 5 is a total fucking joke.
Well, there's plenty of complex (and not-so-complex) games with rubbish AIs, but that's because making AIs is hard, especially for a game that's not been solved, and often was still evolving and being re-balanced 5 minutes before it shipped. I'm not sure a procedurally generated, multifocus game like Civ could even be solved - certainly the debates over what's proper play keep raging on. So I wouldn't hold my breath for a perfect AI for it, even if someone did try and make it as a coding challenge.

Checkers, chess, reversi... - simple games with simple rules and limited moves yet emergent issues complex enough that they can't reliably be solved for. It's already very difficult to make good AIs for those games, even with the sheer brute force of Deep Blue and the like to crunch future plans N moves ahead (well, checkers might be easier, admittedly). Go, as mentionned, is pretty much unsolvable even *with* brute force since the "correct" play has as much to do with philosophy than anything and the board's state flows a lot.

Civilization, in many ways, is N-dimensional Go with X players at the same table. Of course the AI's gonna suck at it. Most people suck at it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bucketybuck
The computer knows all the probabilities, and thus will play very predictably. The human will not.
So let it roll a dice on whether to bluff or not on a given hand/situation. Unpredictable unpredictability.

Last edited by Kobal2; 02-26-2014 at 04:28 AM.
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Old 02-26-2014, 09:48 AM
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Civilization IV. Even at Deity level, where the computer's given totally unfair advantages, a highly skilled player can defeat the computer nearly all the time.

And I specify CivIV because the A.I. in Civilization 5 is a total fucking joke.
And yet after all this time, I'm STILL getting my butt kicked on Noble level.
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Old 02-26-2014, 10:18 AM
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Civilization is inherently not solvable because it's not deterministic. No matter how good your plans are, there's always a chance that a stone-age spearman will defeat your Abrams tank. In principle, though, with enough brute force computing power, you could calculate the probability of winning from any action with optimal opponent response, and thus in practice "solve" it.

Go is definitely solvable, and again, a brute force method would in principle do it. The "philosophy" of correct play is really just a bunch of heuristics that have been developed because the brute-force solution is too impractical.
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Old 02-26-2014, 10:35 AM
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The game.... of love.

I wonder how well AI fares with the various collectible card games (Pokemon, Magic: the Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh!, etc). Especially in a "random draft" style situation where the decks aren't predetermined and so the AI has to make a workable deck out of a bunch of random cards, shuffle it and play a human player. I know there's computer versions of some of these games but I don't think they have the same randomization you find in a real world random draft.

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Old 02-26-2014, 11:50 AM
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Diplomacy. When the world Dip champ is a computer, I'll acknowledge that the goal of 'true AI' has been achieved, or at least close enough as to make no difference.

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How about Bridge?
I'm surprised that a pair of computers haven't already been able to outplay the best humans.

Even with their wifi turned off.
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Old 02-26-2014, 02:10 PM
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The game.... of love.

I wonder how well AI fares with the various collectible card games (Pokemon, Magic: the Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh!, etc).
I was just going to say MtG. I had a coworker a few jobs ago (this guy) who was very involved in Go AI, and I claimed that writing an expert-level Magic AI would be harder than Go.


That means, to me, that the AI has to be able to look at a new magic card that it's never heard of or seen before, and figure out how good that card is, how best to play that card, how to build decks with that card in them, how to play against that card, etc. That is a HAAAAAARD problem.
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Old 02-26-2014, 02:58 PM
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Max, I don't know if you ever played the old Shandalar MtG game from Microprose, but that was with a very limited card pool, and the AI was godawful. It would giant growth your creatures, fail to attack when your board was empty, etc. Just miserable.
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Old 02-26-2014, 03:10 PM
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I can see that. Often, decks are made or broke by specific combos of two or even three cards, and the number of card combos is combinatorically larger than the number of cards. Plus, even getting the right cards out doesn't guarantee that you'll see how they can most effectively interact, since many combos depend on subtle nuances of timing and the like. And then you have to evaluate how consistently you can pull that combo off, and how good the cards are without the combos, and how many other combos you can make out of those cards.
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Old 02-26-2014, 06:37 PM
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Max, I don't know if you ever played the old Shandalar MtG game from Microprose, but that was with a very limited card pool, and the AI was godawful. It would giant growth your creatures, fail to attack when your board was empty, etc. Just miserable.
True, although that doesn't really prove much. I suspect that if we limit the card pool and ignore deck building it would be not particularly hard to build an AI that was damn good purely at playing with an already-created deck out of limited cardpool. HOW good I dunno, but certainly WAAAAAAY better than the comically awful Shandalar AI.
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Old 02-26-2014, 06:48 PM
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There are lots of games where the AI can only win consistently by cheating. Civ is a great example, all varieties. The only AI that gives a challenge is where everything is easier for the AI (bonus resources, fewer requirements for buildings or upgrades, etc.)

Also for example, first person shooters. The only chance the AI has in your average first person shooter is to always know where the players are at all times, and what weaponry they're carrying. If they experience the same "fog of war" the players experience (i.e. that you have no idea where the enemy is unless you see or hear them), AI bots are trivial to defeat.
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Old 02-26-2014, 06:56 PM
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Civilization IV. Even at Deity level, where the computer's given totally unfair advantages, a highly skilled player can defeat the computer nearly all the time.

And I specify CivIV because the A.I. in Civilization 5 is a total fucking joke.
You literally have no idea how estatic I am to see that other people play that masterpiece of a game!
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Old 02-26-2014, 06:58 PM
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that's only because they're not designed to. how could a computer miss in an FPS if it's not crippled?

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Old 02-26-2014, 07:08 PM
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Civilization IV. Even at Deity level, where the computer's given totally unfair advantages, a highly skilled player can defeat the computer nearly all the time.

And I specify CivIV because the A.I. in Civilization 5 is a total fucking joke.
A human will annihilate a computer player at any relatively complex strategy game if the computer is playing by the same rules. That has always been true of ALL strategy games, from Civilization to Empire.

Civilization (of any version) is many orders of magnitude more complex than chess, so a computer's strengths of brute power are vastly overwhelmed by a human's strengths in developing heuristics.
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Old 02-26-2014, 07:36 PM
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You literally have no idea how estatic I am to see that other people play that masterpiece of a game!
You may find this interesting: Playing to Lose: AI and "Civilization" (hosted by Soren Johnson)

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A human will annihilate a computer player at any relatively complex strategy game if the computer is playing by the same rules. That has always been true of ALL strategy games, from Civilization to Empire.
I nearly quit playing the computer version of Ticket to Ride because the AI is so dumb, dumb, dumb. The game designers definitely could've done a better job, but as you said, it's virtually impossible for any strategy game to accurately emulate a human.
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Old 02-26-2014, 07:44 PM
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A human will annihilate a computer player at any relatively complex strategy game if the computer is playing by the same rules. That has always been true of ALL strategy games, from Civilization to Empire.

Civilization (of any version) is many orders of magnitude more complex than chess, so a computer's strengths of brute power are vastly overwhelmed by a human's strengths in developing heuristics.
This isn't entirely true. Starcraft II can be played fairly well by AI. Not Blizzard's AI, mind you, but some AIs that researchers have made. One could argue they don't play by exactly the same rules, since the AI doesn't have a keyboard, mouse, and screen, but when it comes down to it, these research AIs don't outright cheat (they don't have map vision or anything). Largely the way they win is by being extremely good multitaskers and using exceptional micro and macro skills to optimize their play to a degree that makes up for their decent, but sub-human ability to strategize.
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Old 02-26-2014, 08:05 PM
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True, although that doesn't really prove much. I suspect that if we limit the card pool and ignore deck building it would be not particularly hard to build an AI that was damn good purely at playing with an already-created deck out of limited cardpool. HOW good I dunno, but certainly WAAAAAAY better than the comically awful Shandalar AI.
I've played the most recent game (Duels of the Planeswalkers 2014) and the AI is fairly competent. Not ingenious by any stratch and it's pretty easy to read it when it's got a combat trick or a counterspell in hand, but it's not the Shandalar trainwreck. It probably helps that its decks are all premade, most are single colour and all are fairly straightforward to play (it does noticeably worse on the few "gimmick" decks, especially the Sliver deck. It just doesn't know to keep the important booster slivers out of harm's way even if you're telegraphing your own tricks).

No draft though - there's a draft format in the game, and the human player gets to rip open booster packs and build up his deck with the luck of the draw, but then they're pitted against regular pre-made decks too.
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Old 02-26-2014, 09:31 PM
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All the people saying "Go" are kinda outdated. Go is being played by computers at pro levels right now - a professional 9dan has lost to a computer playing Go albeit with 4 stone handicap.

Zen matches against Ohashi Hirofumi and Takemiya Masaki were announced in February 2012.[21] On March 17, 2012 Zen beats Takemiya 9p at 5 stones by eleven points followed by a stunning twenty point win at a 4 stone handicap. Takemiya remarked "I had no idea that computer go had come this far." - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_Go
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Old 02-27-2014, 08:44 AM
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This isn't entirely true. Starcraft II can be played fairly well by AI. Not Blizzard's AI, mind you, but some AIs that researchers have made. One could argue they don't play by exactly the same rules, since the AI doesn't have a keyboard, mouse, and screen, but when it comes down to it, these research AIs don't outright cheat (they don't have map vision or anything). Largely the way they win is by being extremely good multitaskers and using exceptional micro and macro skills to optimize their play to a degree that makes up for their decent, but sub-human ability to strategize.
In this case though we're getting beyond "strategy game" and into just an outright video game. Starcraft is real time and so speed and reaction time can be as important as strategizing. If you converted it into a turn based game, the computer would lose to any reasonably experienced player.
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Old 02-27-2014, 09:35 AM
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On this subject, I always like to quote something I once read in fortune cookie, or on a napkin at a bar, or some such place:
"Both a computer and a person can win a great game. But only a person can enjoy it."


Last edited by chappachula; 02-27-2014 at 09:35 AM.
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Old 02-27-2014, 10:35 AM
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I've played the most recent game (Duels of the Planeswalkers 2014) and the AI is fairly competent. Not ingenious by any stratch and it's pretty easy to read it when it's got a combat trick or a counterspell in hand, but it's not the Shandalar trainwreck. It probably helps that its decks are all premade, most are single colour and all are fairly straightforward to play (it does noticeably worse on the few "gimmick" decks, especially the Sliver deck. It just doesn't know to keep the important booster slivers out of harm's way even if you're telegraphing your own tricks).
Yeah, I'd suspect that you could program an AI to do well with a single tight deck, especially if you're limiting the deck choices for the opponent. I'd consider that a pretty narrow definition of "playing Magic" though and wouldn't be especially impressed by it. Unlike board games like chess or even games like poker, too much of Magic involves the ability to build something from a vast assortment of (potentially randomly assigned) cards and I can't imagine the AI holding up under a draft tournament situation, for example. Even if you're not talking draft, if the AI is having a human-constructed deck handed to it with specific instructions how to play it, it's not really the AI doing 75% of the job (deck construction).
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Old 02-27-2014, 11:22 AM
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All the people saying "Go" are kinda outdated. Go is being played by computers at pro levels right now - a professional 9dan has lost to a computer playing Go albeit with 4 stone handicap.

Zen matches against Ohashi Hirofumi and Takemiya Masaki were announced in February 2012.[21] On March 17, 2012 Zen beats Takemiya 9p at 5 stones by eleven points followed by a stunning twenty point win at a 4 stone handicap. Takemiya remarked "I had no idea that computer go had come this far." - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_Go
I will admit that I know essentially nothing about Go, but it does seem like it's the sort of game that will ultimately fall to Moore's Law, just as chess did in its time.
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Old 02-27-2014, 11:27 AM
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Madden. The computer player sucks!
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Old 02-27-2014, 02:27 PM
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The traditional answer is Go.. That article is a little old but I'm not aware of any breakthroughs since then.
I thought there was a breakthrough of sorts recently - some software switched to a Monte Carlo method (similar to what I have seen computers do with Scrabble; they play a sizable number of games out from a particular position to determine the best move). I don't think any computer is at Shodan yet, but they're better than the 13 Kyu they seemed to be stuck at years ago.
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Old 02-27-2014, 02:40 PM
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I doubt computers would even be very good at playing preconstructed decks, if they weren't given specific instruction on it. There are just too many subtleties in the interactions of even simple cards.
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Old 02-27-2014, 02:59 PM
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In this case though we're getting beyond "strategy game" and into just an outright video game. Starcraft is real time and so speed and reaction time can be as important as strategizing. If you converted it into a turn based game, the computer would lose to any reasonably experienced player.
Bah, a real-time game is just a turn based game where the turn times trend towards zero .
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Old 02-27-2014, 04:10 PM
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Hearts? Spades? Euchre? Pinochle? Rook? Are there computers who play these games better than humans? Because I haven't seen them if so.
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Old 02-27-2014, 07:12 PM
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I can usually crush the computer in any poker game I've tried. Computers aren't great at bluffing or detecting bluffing.
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Old 02-27-2014, 07:22 PM
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i should ask again though - besides Chess and Go, has there been any serious effort given to make these AI to actually crush humans? it seems to me that developers would not spend too much time on the AI in games instead of multiplayer.
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Old 02-27-2014, 07:24 PM
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Well, that's a good point.
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Old 03-01-2014, 12:37 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
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Can chess AIs *always* beat *any* human?


I'm curious about the state of chess AIs vs. humans at this point. I would break my question down like this:

1. Will the best chess AI always beat *any* human in a tournament?

2. Will the best chess AI always beat any human in a single game? (I know this was not true in the second series of Deep Blue vs. Kasparov. IIRC, DB won 2, K won 1, and there were three draws.)

3. If the computer will not necessarily win, can a human reliably play for a draw? IOW, could it be possible that human chess playing ability will remain high enough to draw against any AI for the foreseeable future?

BTW, chess and go definitely cannot be "solved" in the conventional sense with a digital computer. The solution tree would require all the atoms in the universe to store in any conceivable material format. It may be possible, however, in the future for a quantum computer to solve chess for any particular position and play perfectly.
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