Alphabet’s Latest AI Show Pony Has More Than One Trick

The history of artificial intelligence is a procession of one-trick ponies. Over decades researchers have crafted a series of super-specialized programs to beat humans at tougher and tougher games. They conquered tic-tac-toe, checkers, and chess. Most recently, Alphabet’s DeepMind research group shocked the world with a program called AlphaGo that mastered the Chinese board game Go. But each of these artificial champions could play only the game it was painstakingly designed to play.

DeepMind has now revealed the first multi-skilled AI board-game champ. A paper posted late Tuesday describes software called AlphaZero that can teach itself to be super-human in any of three challenging games: chess, Go, or Shogi—a game sometimes dubbed Japanese chess.

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