The latest AI program developed by DeepMind is not only brilliant and remarkably flexible-it’s also quite weird.
DeepMind published a paper this week describing a game-playing program it developed that proved capable of mastering chess and the Japanese game Shoju, having already mastered the game of Go. Demis Hassabis, the founder and CEO of DeepMind and an expert chess player himself, presented further details of the system, called Alpha Zero, at an AI conference in California on Thursday.
The program often made moves that would seem unthinkable to a human chess player.
Alpha Zero is a more general version of AlphaGo, the program developed by DeepMind to play the board game Go. In 24 hours, Alpha Zero taught itself to play chess well enough to beat one of the best existing chess programs around.
Although in 1996 IBM’s Deep Blue beat the world champion at the time, that program, like other conventional chess programs, required careful hand-programming. Alpha Zero improves further still by showing that the same program can master three different types of board games.
Alpha Zero’s achievements are impressive, but it still needs to play many more practice games than a human chess master.