Category Archives: games

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]

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VR/Virtual Reality unleashed! state-of-the-art 2016

hi all. have been waiting for an opportune moment to unleash this post, collecting links for probably close to 2+yrs. VR/ virtual reality is a massive gamechanger/ disruptive technology. as a teenager several decades ago (ugh) fantasized about VR, and now its finally here. the final designated trigger for this post: was wandering around a great mall & walked into the gamestop and sony VR (PS4) was sitting around in boxes, and also samsung (gear) VR was in the best buy cell phone store. (old geezer me remembers a time when best buy didnt sell cell phones!) we’ve certainly come a long way!

tried out oculus rift demo about a year+½ ago. tried out gear VR a few mos ago. its all fantastic. may buy the sony VR for ps4 fairly soon, am debating. might buy it just for the battlezone game! actually it was probably mostly battlezone by atari released ~1980 that started my near-pre-adolescent VR dreams aflutter.

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$1B EU QM computing initiative + QM theory/ applied highlights Q1 2016

nature_EU_qm➡ 💡 ❗ ⭐ 😮 😀 😎 ❤ hi all, more signs that physics is in a golden age esp in the area of quantum computing and quantum mechanics. EU just announced a $1B initiative to fund quantum computing. this combines with two other existing/ similar projects to analyze the brain and advance graphene technology/ understanding.[a]

the Manifesto[a1] is a sign that we are in dramatic times. you will not much hear scientists ever use the word Manifesto in their entire lifetimes. (marx was a rare exception.) another word that you will rarely hear scientists use is “revolution” but they are calling quantum computing the 2nd quantum revolution. as the chinese say, may you live in interesting times.

the announcement is utterly buried in a bureacratic document[a3] under the section “What is the financial impact of the Cloud Initiative? Where will the money come from and how will it be invested?” but Nature blared it anyway.[a2] apparently those bureacrats are a little gun shy after criticism of the $1B brain initiative as too ambitious or infeasible etc.

these are other big 2015 Q1 developments/ highlights. as usual its hard to keep up with lightning fast advances in this field. even the canadian prime minister is talking about QM these days.[b1][b2] DWave seems to be further confounding its critics with real, measurable performance.[b9][b4] somewhat similar to the EU announcement, chinas Alibaba announced a major QM research initative.[b8] they are intending to start out with encryption applications and hundreds of engineers, working toward QM computing technology.

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alphaGo victorious 4-1 over Sedol in SKorea, NKorea crushes Warmbier 15-0

hi all the go match was very eventful and turned out to have massive media coverage worldwide, with huge interest from technology publications, and theres a sizeable AI/ ML/ singulatarian crowd on the internet that follows these types of developments quite avidly.

wish that google would transcribe the press conferences. there was a lot of interesting details but it takes a long time to watch them and the midstream translation interruption (korean to english, english to korean) slows down the presentation also.

saw some interesting press questions in the post-3rd match conference iirc that tie in with some angles explored on this blog.

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battle of the brains midmatch pause: alphaGo 2-0 over Sedol

hassabis-sedol-schmidthi all. feeling blog-overwhelmed by recent Turing Machine-type events but just cannot resist blogging again at this historic moment (my blog frequency is up lately and some at expense of other activities). caught some of the 2nd match live late wed eve. do not know go heads from tails myself but found the commentary by Redmond quite engaging. it was interesting in postgame analysis that Sedol felt at no time was he winning, but Redmond saw the game as fairly even even far into the middle. but near the end something shifted, possibly a single move, and Redmond said that Black (alphaGo) had a major ~10stone advantage based on rough count.

korea_heraldthe long ~4hr match made me feel a bit sorry for the commentators attempting to say something meaningful the whole time sometimes when the moves were very slow. there was a ~30m delay in the midgame as sedol pondered a weird/ unusual move by alphago. at one point Redmond called alphago a “he” and they reacted briefly on that, redmond said it seemed natural to him. (at my job a guy also sometimes talks about computational processes in terms of “he”…)

this game is quite interesting in that, for apparently nearly even positions (which are possibly frequently the case in very advanced level games) one does not know clearly if one is winning or losing and single moves can significantly tip the balance. the single moves seem to be about unifying separate regions and strengthening major separate areas such that they reinforce each other. it seems to be about simultaneously playing out multiple strategies in separate regions and then tying them together in the end.

the game seems to me to have a strong fractal quality, apparently not noted by many. explaining exactly what this means is not quite possible at this moment in scientific history. fractals are very difficult to describe.

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