Pong. Ping.
Bill Quick

It took one of the best table tennis players who ever lived to defeat this thing. And maybe he won’t be able to do that next year.

People who think robots won’t be doing a lot of things previously reserved to humans just haven’t been paying attention.  And it won’t be just building cars or playing ping pong.

There’s a reason nobody tries to beat a computer at chess any more.  In fact, the chess program on your tablet might have an excellent chance at kicking Deep Blue’s ass.  As for Kasparov,  your tablet would munch him for breakfast.

Posted in Technology permalink
Bill Quick

About Bill Quick

I am a small-l libertarian. My primary concern is to increase individual liberty as much as possible in the face of statist efforts to restrict it from both the right and the left. If I had to sum up my beliefs as concisely as possible, I would say, "Stay out of my wallet and my bedroom," "your liberty stops at my nose," and "don't tread on me." I will believe that things are taking a turn for the better in America when married gays are able to, and do, maintain large arsenals of automatic weapons, and tax collectors are, and do, not.

Comments

Pong. Ping. — 8 Comments

  1. There’s a reason nobody tries to beat a computer at chess any more. In fact, the chess program on your tablet might have an excellent chance at kicking Deep Blue’s ass. As for Kasparov, your tablet would munch him for breakfast.

    It’s funny. Back when I spent a summer at NC Governor’s School, I was pretty good at chess and would win the majority of games played against people on my floor. There was one guy, though, who always kicked my ass. And he ALWAYS beat the computer chess games, including the-at the time-best on the planet; the name escapes me. When I asked him how he was able to defeat the computer, he replied thusly:

    “Computers are great at ranking pieces by power and value. Queens greater than knights greater than pawns, that sort of thing. What they’re NOT good at is ranking the importance of areas of the board. So I will defend or attack and area of the board that I deem important for my strategy and am willing to concede a point advantage for an area advantage. That’s how you beat a computer.”

    My guess is that this is how Kasparov beat the computer the first time, but clearly the software had been improved by the second iteration. Also, Kasparov was nervous because the computer was so much improved.

    Any purely mechanistic task can easily be bettered by a computer. I’m still not convinced that activities that require some sort of intuition (call it the logical leap from A to C that people sometimes make, if you will) will ever be bettered by artificial intelligence. But I won’t mind being proven wrong, because should such technology come to fruition, it’s highly likely that I can use that tech to supplement my brain. And that will be a good thing.

    • Think about it this way: Your brain is, at its most basic, a machine. It’s just made up of massively greater numbers of connections and processing “power.” For now.

      Computers will match human “hardware” capabilities within the next ten years. What you call intuition, or logical leap may well be merely a function of those massive hardware capabilities.

  2. My contention is that intuition is generally a solution that your subconscious recognizes before you’re aware of that solution. And yes, it’s likely a function of processing power and complexity. I do hope that we as a race don’t screw it all up before the Singularity hits.

  3. One interesting aspect of the discussions of Deep Blue was the explanation of DB’s methods – basically brute force, that is, it threw a lot of cycles at modeling hundreds of thousands of potential outcomes of any move.

    This sort of “brute force” is, presumably, to be distinguished from human methods of playing chess. And yet at the time a human brain, as a processor, was several orders of magnitude more capable than Deep Blue. I’ve often wondered if what we call intelligence is merely what brute force looks like when you’re running a machine as powerful as a human brain.

  4. Not to be picky, but in most table tennis matches you’re not allowed to wear the color of the ball. White ball? No white shirts allowed. Too easy to disguise the ball’s spin or location. Since the robot is orange, and the ball is orange, the human was at a slight disadvantage as a result. I’m curious to know whether the robot can be programmed to take advantage of that – with tracking the human’s eyes perhaps?

    • Well, they could do a replay with a white ball, I guess. That’s probably the simplest option. A couple of years from now the robot will be so much better than the human, though, that nothing about the ball color, or anything else will make much of a difference in the eventual outcome.

  5. People who think robots won’t be doing a lot of things previously reserved to humans just haven’t been paying attention. And it won’t be just building cars or playing ping pong.

    “The factory of the future will have only two employees, a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the equipment.”
    Warren G. Bennis