Category Archives: games

AI 2017 part 2 highlights/ trends

hi all. 2nd half AI in 2017 was very fast paced and as usual its hard to keep up. many headlines on the subj. this is a 2nd half review.

seems like some of the biggest news is the increasing dominance of China in the area after the govt announced major initiatives, funding, and resolve/ determination.[b]

google/ deepmind continues to dominate headlines.[a] the other big news is googles alphago and alphazero that no longer required human training games![a2] officially its under the name of “reinforcement learning” but my feeling is that this technology is something like “directed learning” where the AI is manipulating its environment to “detect/ seek/ digest novelty,” and that this will be a key, paradigm shifting trend in the near future. the same algorithm also works in chess/ go!

starcraft[a3] and Dota are starting to show up in AI engines/ research and OpenAI just announced breakthru championship level play vs humans in Dota, and Deepmind is attacking starcraft. despite all this major domination, it looks like games will not move out of cutting edge research anytime soon.[c4]

another notable shift/ trend is that AI/ machine learning is starting to couple stronger with physics and robotics. eg Deepmind humanoid walking simulations etc.

Continue reading


secret/ blueprint/ path to AGI: novelty detection/ seeking

hi all. kurzweil wrote in 2006 “the singularity is near”. foreboding words! but today, still maybe more of a feeling than a fact. definitely, the AI field has started to mature into a new steady advance period/ era in the last few years, also with a burst of energy/ enthusiasm/ innovation heralded by the Google Deepmind acquisition in 2014, and other massive shifts toward increased investment by large corporations and govts. the Musk Open AI initiative was announced in 2015.

the other massive milestone is the ready conquering of Go by Google in 2016 by AlphaGo. in late 2017, a new version AlphaZero was announced that plays superior to AlphaGo (at “beyond human grandmaster level”) after learning merely from the rules and reinforcement learning, ie no example human-level play presented as training whatsoever. AlphaZero also plays grandmaster level chess after learning “from scratch”. this breakthrough is not fully/ widely appreciated in some ways. it is the first case of a potentially more general algorithm for AI emerging from “previously relatively narrow” study of AI in games.

AI has the terminology “weak AI” and “strong AI” for different levels/ sophistication/ “ability”. more recently the term AGI, Artificial General Intelligence has been coined.

Continue reading

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]

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

$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.

Continue reading