In the paper, DeepMind describes how a descendant of the AI program that first conquered the board game Go has taught itself to play a number of other games at a superhuman level.
After eight hours of self-play, the program bested the AI that first beat the human world Go champion; and after four hours of training, it beat the current world champion chess-playing program, Stockfish.
Then for a victory lap, it trained for just two hours and polished off one of the world’s best shogi-playing programs named Elmo. One of the key advances here is that the new AI program, named AlphaZero, wasn’t specifically designed to play any of these games. DeepMind’s engineers used the same method to create AlphaGo Zero; the AI program that was unveiled this October. What’s remarkable here is that in less than 24 hours, the same computer program was able to teach itself how to play three complex board games at superhuman levels.
That’s a new feat for the world of AI. This takes DeepMind just that little bit closer to building the generic thinking machine the company dreams of, but major challenges lie ahead. When DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis showed off AlphaGo Zero earlier this year, he suggested that a future version of the program could help with a range of scientific problems – from designing new drugs to discovering new materials.