AI 2017 — poker milestone passed/ crumbled

hi all. AI technology is really exploding in the last few years. the last big post/ compilation on the subj here was ~½ year ago and the links piled up in a blur since then. the main trigger for this post: the game of poker now seems to have “folded” to computer supremacy. a new paper was published on Deepstack and its highly competitive play, and Libratus is $800K up in a recent match against top experts (top players). my understanding is that there is still some weakness in multiplayer games and that the new breakthru is for 1-1 games, human vs computer, but presumably that razor-thin human edge might also melt away quickly.[a]

poker was a very good game for humans wrt our inherent/ evolved psychology. we (top humans that is) seem to have an intuitive grasp of how to bet based on the strength of cards, including the use of bluffing. it took computers until the 21st century to master this stuff. but it looks like they just passed the threshhold again. in a small surprise, it wasnt done by Deepmind but which is behind many other near-monthly, even verging on weekly breakthroughs.[c]

maybe not by total coincidence, the winning Libratus algorithm involves training a neural network to accurately estimate the search tree, quite similar to the Deepmind Go strategy that made huge headlines just a year ago. the media hasnt picked up on the poker competition as much as it did with Go… is it because cautious/ publicity shy academics have less PR instinct than google? or less budget? but maybe that “relatively low profile” will change in the weeks/ months ahead. hopefully there will be a very high profile contest that again captures widespread public interest/ imagination.

it seems the top poker competitions are typically held in Las Vegas afaik… what would it take to get the computers in that? wouldnt be cool if say Vegas (or some other high profile gambling center) decided to publicize it to attract attn/ tourism? but would the computer algorithms be competitive in the top multiplayer games? there have been increasing/ huge audiences for poker over last few years, not sure what all the factors are in in this surge (internet gambling might play a role…)

its neat to see academia still at the top of competitive research in AI. but that seems to be thinning somewhat over last few years as the massive corporations Google[b], Microsoft, Apple,[g] Facebook, Intel [f] and misc other corps [e] are snapping up AI talent like its a feverish arms race, and to some degree it is. theres also very fast/ dynamic startup/ other merger activity going on, and new research laboratories being founded.[h]

a rare misstep/ cautionary tale in this area is googles $3.2B acquisition of Nest which cost a big pile of money & is now seen as a disapointment.[d] somewhat similar/ understandably there is some naysaying against all the hype, but its mostly overshadowed by all the white-hot innovation going on.[j]

advances are very broad and there are some nice overviews.[m][q] a promising aspect is that open AI seems a major element so far.[l] specific major areas of innovation are games[n], driving[o], medical[p], flying[r], vision/ images/ video[s], robotics[t], language[u], military use.[w] another area of advance comes in a few contests.[ae]

research on the brain continues to crosspollinate quite tightly with AI research.[v]

its influencing hardware design[z] and sciences/ scientific method.[aa]

there is continued investigation into biases by AI after this issue has gotten major media attention lately.[x]

whitehouse/ obama announced a report.[b] the president who likes star trek gets a shot at realizing and materializing/ steering it all to some degree.

there are great tutorials/ info on details.[ab] interviews/profiles of some of the founders.[ac]

whats the future? lots of different views on that.[i] also a lot of new thinking/ awareness on control/ ethics/ safety/ laws/ regulation.[k] how will it affect jobs? its a big concern.[ad]


a. poker
b. google
c. deepmind
d. nest
e. corps
f. intel
g. apple
h. startup/ funding/ mergers
i. predictions/ future/ warnings
j. skepticism/ limitations
k. control/ ethics/ safety/ laws/ regulation
l. openai
m. advance
n. games
o. driving
p. medical
q. overview
r. fly
s. vision/ images/ video
t. robotics
u. language
v. brain
w. military
x. bias
y. whitehouse/ obama
z. hardware
aa. science
ab. edu
ac. profile/ interview
ae. contest

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