Feeds

Computer program to take on the Unabomber

Man vs. Machine challenge

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

How intelligent is a computer - and just what does it mean to be intelligent, anyway?

The Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) aims to clarify that question with its Man vs. Machine Poker Challenge, taking place today and tomorrow in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Polaris, a poker program developed at the Computer Poker Research Group of the University of Alberta, will compete against poker professionals Phil “The Unabomber” Laak and Ali Eslami in a two day Texas Hold’em tournament designed to test the limits of computer “thought” in real world scenarios.

Part of the challenge for proponents of artificial intelligence lies in the difficulty of defining exactly what intelligence is: “intelligence” as we typically understand it is a rather haphazard measurement of our abilities, some of which lend themselves to duplication via computer software, and some of which do not. Human intelligence is as much about communication and nuance as it is about performing mathematical functions, which is all that computers are really good at. Computers, in short, excel at the purely computational tasks that lend themselves to ready measurement, which is why within the closed universe of the chessboard computers are capable of beating even the greatest human players.

On the other hand, computers do miserably at the forms of emotional intelligence that define so much of what we are as human beings. Poker - a game of imperfect information, with its potent mixture of probability and human psychology – is the kind of talent that in the past has humbled even the most powerful supercomputers.

Polaris seeks to redress that imbalance.

Two copies of the program will compete as a team against the two professionals in a version of duplicate poker, a poker variant designed to minimize the element of chance. In duplicate poker, players at different tables play the same hand and compete not against those at their own table, but against those playing the same hand at different tables. Luck is still involved, inasmuch as no one can predict the behavior of the other table’s opponents, but the game is largely one of skill, which is why it has slipped under the radar of the ever-vigilant American authorities.

In the Man vs. Machine Poker Challenge, each teammate will play the hand of his teammate’s opponent, and teammates are forbidden to communicate with each other during the match. The match should therefore provide a fairly accurate gauge of the relative skill of each individual player, and provide at least a glimpse of just how much of that emotional intelligence can be coded into computer program. It should also provide insight into the hotly debated topic of the degree to which skillful poker play consists of an understanding of numeric probability and how much is sheer bluff.

Imperfect information characterizes the world in which we live, and the development of a computer capable of functioning at a high level at a poker table would be a major breakthrough for the artificial intelligence community, with implications far beyond the gambling world.

My money’s on the Unabomber.®

Burke Hansen, attorney at large, heads a San Francisco law office

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
Admins dab straining server brows in advance of Trusty Tahr's long-term support landing
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Windows XP still has 27 per cent market share on its deathbed
Windows 7 making some gains on XP Death Day
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
Windows 8.1, which you probably haven't upgraded to yet, ALREADY OBSOLETE
Pre-Update versions of new Windows version will no longer support patches
Microsoft TIER SMEAR changes app prices whether devs ask or not
Some go up, some go down, Redmond goes silent
Red Hat to ship RHEL 7 release candidate with a taste of container tech
Grab 'near-final' version of next Enterprise Linux next week
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.