No-Limit Texas Hold’em is the latest machine victim. A team at Carnegie-Mellon created an artificial intelligence called Pluribus that defeated top human players in games involving thousands of hands. We’ve already seen the downfall of the chess grandmasters, then the kings of Go, and now it’s the poker whizzes. I really liked what one of the players said afterwards:

Michael “Gags” Gagliano, who has earned nearly $2 million in career earnings, also competed against Pluribus.

“It was incredibly fascinating getting to play against the poker bot and seeing some of the strategies it chose” Gagliano said. “There were several plays that humans simply are not making at all, especially relating to its bet sizing. Bots/AI are an important part in the evolution of poker, and it was amazing to have first-hand experience in this large step toward the future.”

This is the way to look at these things. It is not surprising that AIs can brute force their way through board games. All the information and all the possibilities are available to see and analyze. Poker adds the problem of incomplete information (you don’t know what the other guy has) to the psychological aspects (is he bluffing?) which should be harder for a machine to deal with.

Apparently not.

Noam Brown, one of the researchers, had this to say:

“This is one of the interesting things about this AI, it’s not adapting to its opponent,” Brown said. “It has its strategy. It’s fixed, it doesn’t change what it’s playing based on how the humans are playing. This whole idea that there could be such a strategy in the game, I found really fascinating and that’s what really drew me to studying it more. It was kind of mystical, in a sense, there’s this strategy that we know exists, but we can’t find it.”

I’m not afraid of computers replacing humans because there are plenty of places where computers will do a better job. Autonomous driving will be a marvelous thing, for example. Air and space craft are mostly too complex to fly and they rely on machines to do the heavy work. Traffic control, whether it is trucks, ships, or satellites, will require AI.

There are a lot of complex processes in our lives. We’ll need help. AIs can find novel, original strategies that may be out of reach for humans. We know we can’t solve some problems, so we invented stuff that would solve them for us.

I can live with that.

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