We’ve grown accustomed to machines taking over routine jobs that humans used to perform (think auto assembly, telephone operators, etc.). But now, the machines are even taking away our fun. Recently, researchers at Japan’s Ishikawa Oku Laboratory unveiled a robotic hand that is unbeatable at the time-honored game of rock-paper-scissors (Roshambo).
That’s right, the friggin’ machines have taken rock-paper-scissors away from us. And this is simply the latest example of artificial intelligence ruining our cherished games and acting like a giant buzzkill with circuits in the process.
“What Is an Ass-Kicking?”
In 2011, IBM’s Watson supercomputer appeared on Jeopardy! and wiped the floor with two of the show’s greatest champions, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. Even after missing the Final Jeopardy clue, Watson still racked up $35,734 in winnings. Jennings and Rutter combined won just over $15,000.
King Me, Hoser Meatbag!
Canadian researchers developed a computer program named Chinook, which was essentially unbeatable at checkers/draughts. In 1995, Chinook won the Man vs. Machine World Checkers Championship, defeating Grandmaster Don Lafferty 1-0, with 31 draws. In 2007, the lead developer on the Chinook team, Jonathan Schaeffer, published a humble paper titled “Checkers Is Solved.”
Computers Own Chess in Two Hemispheres
We all know about IBM’s Deep Blue computer besting world chess champion Gary Kasparov in 1997, but that was small potatoes. After all, Western chess only has 10123 games that can be played out. The Japanese version, shogi, has 10224. And a computer named Akara 2010 only needed 86 moves to beat top women’s shogi player Ichiyo Shimizu in 2010.
RoboKeeper Is Unstoppable, Available for Bar Mitzvahs
Scientists are still working on robots that can beat the best humans at soccer, but German researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute seem to already have the goal keeping thing down. Behold RoboKeeper, a motion-detecting robot that can block everything kicked its way. Oddly enough, RoboKeeper seems to be used mostly for parties and other money-making events, which is kind of a waste. But you can’t argue with the results.
Here’s video of RoboKeeper stopping some pretty damn good kicks. Skip ahead about a minute if you don’t care about the setup.
Othello/Reversi — A Minute to Learn, a Lifetime to Lose
Computers have actually been kicking our ass in Othello for years. An early program called Moor (get it?) first won a game against world champion Hiroshi Inoue in the early ’80s. The domination was complete by 1997, when an improved program called Logistello whipped world champion Takeshi Murakami 6-0.
Murakami was quoted at the time as saying, “Frankly, I have a very slim chance of winning it. I can not find any defect or weakness.”