As AI gets smarter, humans need to stop being sore losers

You’re starting on page 2 of this, click here to start at the beginning.

The AI effect

For all that humans might celebrate accomplishments made relating to artificial intelligence — and it’s important to remember that it was people who built these systems — we’re only too quick to write off machine minds as some lesser branch of thought.

After beating Kasparov, some critics of Deep Blue noted that it ‘just’ used brute force to pick up the win. Similar efforts in fault-finding have plagued this type of technology for decades, with the phenomenon coming to be known as the AI effect.

In a Q&A portion of her book Machines Who Think, noted tech commentator Pamela McCorduck gave the following summation of the problem:

Q: What so-called smart computers do–is that really thinking?

A: No, if you insist that thinking can only take place inside the human cranium. But yes, if you believe that making difficult judgments, the kind usually left to experts, choosing among plausible alternatives, and acting on those choices, is thinking. That’s what artificial intelligences do right now. Along with most people in AI, I consider what artificial intelligences do as a form of thinking, though I agree that these programs don’t think just like human beings do, for the most part. I’m not sure that’s even desirable.

The divide between ‘real’ thinking, and whatever the alternative is, can only serve to downplay the results of research into artificial intelligence. Every time a machine can fulfill our expectations of thought, we change the parameters — and, even then, our superiority isn’t guaranteed.

Moving the goalposts

In 2003, American computer scientists decided to create a game that computers would find difficult. The result was Arimaa, a contest that uses all the same elements of a standard Chess set, but is specifically designed such that the brute force tactics used to beat Kasparov don’t offer an advantage.

Arimaa sets itself apart from Chess in a variety of ways; players lay out their pieces in the same two rows but can arrange them however they wish, pieces are captured via a push-pull system based on manipulating their opponent into trap squares, and the game is won by reaching your opponent’s side of the board with one of your weakest units.

arimaa

All of these mechanics were designed with the intent of making the game difficult for computers. Compared to the 400 opening moves in Chess, and the 32,490 in Go, there are 64,864,800 possible configurations of the board available to each player before they make a single play.

To further complicate matters, the pieces inhabit a hierarchy where each individual unit — an elephant, a camel, two horses, two dogs, two cats and eight rabbits — can only push or pull a weaker unit. The added potential for different outcomes means that computers are unable to rely on brute force. Its creator put up a $10,000 reward  in 2004 for any computer program running on off-the-shelf hardware that could defeat the game’s three best human players.

For the first several years of competition, computer players could only pick up the occasional game when the human offered up a handicap. Then, in 2015, David Wu’s three-time computer world champion program Sharp managed to pick up seven wins from nine games played and comfortably took home the prize fund.

With the right (human) minds working on the project, it seems that there’s no game that computers can’t beat people at — ranging from 2,000-year-old tests of strategic insight to fifteen-year-old challenges created for this very purpose.

It seems likely that artificial intelligence will be implemented into more and more aspects of our everyday life in years to come. As that process takes place, we’ll hopefully see less of a tendency to downplay these advances as parlor tricks. Computers are only going to improve as competitors, so humans need to be ready to take losses with grace.

Features

Exclusive: The Surface Hub 2S will revolutionize work. Here’s how it was made

Exclusive interviews with the designers, futurists, and visionaries behind the Surface Hub 2 paint a dramatic picture of how Microsoft thinks collaboration will change your office.
Gaming

The best video games for kids, sorted by age group, for April 2019

There are a wealth of great games out there that both parents and kids can enjoy together. We compiled a list of 30-plus games across all genres that are sure to make family game night a great time.
Gaming

If we get a Nintendo 64 Classic, it needs to have these games

The Nintendo 64 introduced a long list of top-tier games, but which were the iconic platform's best? From Mario Party to Ocarina of Time to NFL Blitz, check out our picks for the best N64 games.
Gaming

How do Nintendo Switch, Xbox One X compare to each other? We find out

The Nintendo Switch is innovative enough to stand apart from traditional consoles, but could it become your primary gaming system? How does the Switch stack up against the Xbox One?
Gaming

The best Wii games, from Super Mario Galaxy to Zelda: Skyward Sword

Nintendo shook up the gaming world with the Wii and its unique control scheme. Here are our picks for the best Wii games — just don't blame us for having too many Mario titles on the list.
Product Review

You won't buy Microsoft's Surface Hub 2S, but it could still change your life

The Microsoft Surface Hub 2S wants to change the way you collaborate at work. That’s a lofty goal most devices fail to achieve, but the unique Hub 2S could be an exception. And trust us – you’re going to want it.
Emerging Tech

How emotion-tracking A.I. will change computing as we know it

Affectiva is just one of the startups working to create emotion-tracking A.I. that can work out how you're feeling. Here's why this could change the face of computing as we know it.
Computing

Meet the mastermind behind Microsoft's massive new Surface Hub

Microsoft Chief Product Officer Panos Panay gives us an exclusive peek at the 85-inch Surface Hub 2, and explains how innovation and collaboration will transform your workplace.
Computing

Microsoft reveals details of Surface Hub 2S, coming in June at $9,000

The Surface Hub 2 could be the most expensive whiteboard ever made, but it should be a powerful and capable one. With the ability to connect several of the 50-inch displays together, the picture at least, should be gorgeous.
Computing

Report says 20% of all 2018 web traffic came from bad bots

Distil Networks published its annual Bad Bot Report this week and announced that 20% of all web traffic in 2018 came from bad bots. The report had other similarly surprising findings regarding the state of bots as well.
Gaming

Learn to uninstall a Steam game and clear some space on your PC

Looking to learn how to uninstall Steam games? You've come to the right place. In this guide, we walk you through the process step by step, whether you want Steam to do it for you or handle the process manually.
Deals

Amazon strikes $100 off the price of Microsoft Surface Go tablets

If you've been eyeing Microsoft's Surface Go for its compact size and portability, now may be a great time to buy the tablet. Amazon has a $100 discount on the Surface Go, bringing the price of this slate down to just under $400.
Photography

Sweet 16: Wacom’s Cintiq 16 pen display makes retouching photos a breeze

Wacom’s Cintiq pen displays are usually reserved for the pros (or wealthy enthusiasts), but the new Cintiq 16 brings screen and stylus editing to an approachable price. Does it cut too much to get there?
Computing

Mueller report releases on CD, forces Congress to find PCs with disc drives

The Mueller report was released this week to Congress via CDs and congressional members had to find PCs with working disc drives to access the 400-page document. The redacted report was also released to the public on a website.
2 of 2