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It hasn't been two years since AlphaGo beat world champion Lee Sedol in Go, but Google's DeepMind already launched a new AI program to take its place.
On December of 2017, Alpha Zero single handedly defeated a world class chess engine, Stockfish, in only 4 hours. In fact, it had no previous experience with chess besides learning the basic rules, but the results were incredible: the AI went undefeated, winning 28 games and drawing the rest in an 100 game matchup. After this match, it went on to beat its former self AlphaGo in Go as well as Elmo in shogi.
With this breakthrough, experts were able to discover more about the thought process of a machine. According to Demis Hassabis, the AI "doesn't play like a human, and it doesn't play like a program . . . It plays in a third, almost alien, way." As he analyzed the games of Alpha Zero, he noticed it played some outlandish yet positionally profound moves. Hassabis offers an explanation for this strange behavior. Rather than reinforcement learning (letting the AI learn from example games), Alpha Zero was taught solely by playing games against itself without any human input. DeepMind also says it takes on an "arguably more human-like approach", one that involves more evaluation and planning instead of calculating lengthy variations.
Ever since 1997 when DeepBlue beat the world chess champion Gary Kasparov, computers have revolutionized the game of chess. Now powerful forms of machine learning like AlphaGo are making a drastic impact in the field of board games. Surely enough, it keeps us wondering: who will defeat Alpha Zero?