From the beginning, man has been intrigued by the idea of intelligence through artificial means; from the golems of Judaic folklore to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, humans have pondered the ability to create an inanimate object that can think and make decisions without the aid of man. With the dawn of the computer age, talk of artificial intelligence magnified and the modern world has computers that can do just that. Then the question of creating an artificial intelligence that exceeds the ability of man became the big question and since then computers have competed with and beaten some of the brightest minds in the world, including chess masters from around the globe. Beginning January 11th and lasting 20 days, the first effort of a computer besting four of the world’s best professional poker players at No-Limit Hold ‘Em will be held at the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh; $200,000 in prize money will be there for the taking for the pros and the programmers.
Computers have bested humans at some of the most intellectual games in the history of the world; computers have been beating top chess players for many years and while they do not win every competition, it has become obvious that it may one day become possible. Computers have also bested human thought at the ancient Chinese game, Go and a computer bested one of four pros in 2015 playing Limit Hold ‘Em. Claudico was created by the minds at Carnegie Melon and it is the same team that has created Libratus for the current competition. The team is expecting better results from Libratus as the newer machine has seen a marked increase in processing from the earlier Claudico.
The completion will happen from 1am to 7pm at Rivers Casino on all 20 days of the competition; those at the casino can witness what may become a historic event live in the casino’s poker room. Those who cannot be physically present can watch the action on a live stream at Twitch, which will run the entire event. The 2015 event with Claudico was held at Rivers and the casino and its staff are looking forward to the new event and are just as interested in the outcome as those in both the poker and computer communities.
While the team from Carnegie Melon is confident in the abilities of the machine and its programming, they are hopeful that Libratus can show a significant improvement over the Claudico event. An improvement would tell the team that it is progressing in the right direction; the information that can be mined from these events could have long-standing effects on the global community. As the ability of artificial intelligence increases, scientists are hoping to use that computing power to improve treatment of cancer and other serious conditions and the increased power could also be used to improve world economics and support more advanced infrastructure everywhere. Poker may not be able to make a marked difference in the welfare of humanity, but the information that can be gathered through events like this can certainly aid scientists in making improvements in the standard of living across the globe.