Mon, Jul 23rd 2007 6:50pm
Computers have been beating humans at chess for a long time now, and just recently a group of scientists announced that they had developed an invincible checkers computer. But getting a computer to excel at poker has been something of a challenge. Whereas in chess and checkers, all of the necessary information is available to the computer for it to compute, in poker the players are dealing with imperfect information. Thus, good poker players often rely on feel and intuition, which are weak spots for machines. But computers are getting better, and starting today, a new poker-playing computer will square off against two poker pros in a contest to determine whether this bastion of human superiority is bound to fall. The program's developers have come up with a clever method to minimize the role of luck, as the computer will play two separate games simultaneously against the pros. The exact same cards will be dealt in each game, but in one game, the human will receive the cards that the computer got in the other game, and vice versa. In the end, the winner will be determined by combining the humans' chips and comparing them to what the computer has. Obviously, one contest won't be enough to give a definitive answer on this question, but if the computer does well, it will indicate that certain traits, like intuition, can actually be programmed to some extent.
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