AI beats AI: AlphaZero becomes the best game player in history

DeepMind – a UK-based subsidiary of Google’s parent organisation Alphabet – has beat rival AI records with AlphaZero.

The AI, introduced by DeepMind in a research published in Science on 6th November 2018, was put against three of the world’s most complex board games and their current AI record holders.

This included world-champion chess AI Stockfish, DeepMind’s very own AlphaGo Zero – known as the best Go player in history – and elmo, winner of the 27th annual World Computer Shogi Championship in 2017.

AlphaZero defeated the AIs in all three games on its own and without human intervention. The only human assistance involved was teaching the AI the basic rules of the games. Using reinforcement learning, the AI would then play against itself millions of times using different strategies to win.

It took nine hours for the AI to learn chess, 12 hours for shogi, and 13 days for Go. Training the AI involving the use of a hefty 5,000 tensor processing units.

The learning algorithm was combined with the Monte Carlo tree search (MCTS), a ‘searching method’.  This is how the Go AI programmes know when and how to make the next move. This same system was used for chess and shogi, revealing the AI could be adapted to other complex games.

The interesting fact here is that AlphaZero implemented its own tactics which surprised human chess players. Moreover, the programme’s aggressive style and dynamic playstyle amazed chess grandmaster Matthew Sadler.

Such extraordinary abilities make the AI a fine teaching tool for chess players from which they can learn about hitherto-unseen gameplay strategies.

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