For more than two decades computers have dominated chess. IBM’s Deep Blue beat World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov in 1997. Deep Blue was a specialized machine, but by 2002 off-the-shelf computers were also matching top players. Amazingly, software running on
All those programs are purpose-built for chess, but Artificial Intelligence (AI) programs now exceed the skill of the purpose-built programs. Google’s AI AlphaZero was given only the rules of play and then played against itself to discover the best strategy for chess. After 4 hours of self-training, it played Stockfish 8, the top-rated chess program. AlphaZero played 100 games in a row without a loss.
“It’s a remarkable achievement,” former world chess champion Garry Kasparov told Chess.com. “We have always assumed that chess required too much empirical knowledge for a machine to play so well from scratch, with no human knowledge added at all.”
Angry Birds is still too tough for AI
Humans are no longer able to beat software at chess, but we still have one game that AI doesn’t dominate. You may have it in your pocket – Angry Birds.
The winner of the Angry Birds 2019 Man vs Machine Challenge is Nathan Sturtevant from the University of Alberta. From the competition website:
Every year, the Angry Birds AI Competition is followed by a Man vs Machine Challenge, where humans can challenge the four best AI agents. The purpose of this challenge is to see if we have reached the goal of the AIBIRDS competition to outperform the best human players in playing new Angry Birds levels. A recent survey among AI researchers found that AIBIRDS was considered the AI Milestone where AI will beat humans next, so the pressure was on for AI to perform well.
For the Challenge, we designed a set of 4 new and very hard levels and both humans and AI had only 10 minutes to solve them. … Only around 20 players were able to solve all 4 levels, which is a very good achievement.
Overall, the agent performance was a disaster. Only Orpheus managed to solve one level, the other three agents didn’t solve any of the four levels. The bar was too high for AI, the levels too difficult and 10 minutes were not enough.
Humans still beat AI at Angry Birds and it seems AI is not getting any closer. AI still has a long way to go to master this very hard
problem thatis much closer to real world problems than seemingly difficult games like Chess or Go. Let’s see how well we can do in 2020.
Next time you feel overwhelmed by computers, go play a few rounds of Angry Birds. Take pride knowing that you may be better than the best AI available. At least for now.
Image Credits: Carlos Jones/ORNL, Rovio Entertainment