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The Evolution of Artificial Intelligence and its implication in a Chess Game

Creative Director
Panda & Wolf Holding

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What is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial Intelligence is nowadays becoming a more and more common terminology, and is present in different aspects of our daily life. Artificial Intelligence is used today in the Automotive Industry, Social Media platforms, E-Commerce organizations, Financial firms, as Digital Assistants, Education, Healthcare and in numerous other fields.
To really grasp what Artificial Intelligence is, we have to understand its basic concept. The original idea of AI started since the 1950s, where classical philosophers attempted to describe the thinking process of human beings as ‘Mechanical manipulations’. For example, drinking a sip of coffee from a cup goes through the process of thinking about the cup and the coffee, then coordinating the hands actions of picking the cup and bringing it to our mouth to finally coordinate the mouth’s action of taking a sip and swallowing it. By applying the same principles, the AI system taking a sip of coffee from a cup will go through the same ‘Mechanical’ process.
The more complex the task, the more steps will be required by a programmer to teach an AI system how to do it.

Evolution of AI

AI research is constant and continues to grow with a 12.9% annual increase worldwide. Within the next four years, China is predicted to become the biggest source of Artificial Intelligence, overtaking Europe which is today the largest and the most diverse region with international collaboration on AI research ahead of India.
From workflow management tools to trend predictions and even the way brands purchase advertising, the most common form of AI used is machine learning technologies. Artificial Intelligence can collect and organize large amounts of information to make insights and guesses that are beyond the human capabilities of manual processing. It also increases organizational efficiencies yet reduces the likelihood of a mistake in various processes.
AI has become so important and advanced that a Japanese Venture Capital firm made history « by being the first company to nominate an AI Board Member for its capabilities to predict market trends faster than a human ». Artificial intelligence will be and is taking a common place in every aspect of life — « like the future of self-driving cars, more accurate weather predictions, or earlier health diagnosis », just to name a few.

Artificial Intelligence in Chess Games

At the beginning of every conception of a chess game lie the basics of chess: first and foremost the information on how each piece can move, how castling works, and how to set the king in checkmate. Special moves, such as en passant and promotion, and the basic value of all pieces must also not be forgotten.
The first ‘engine’ (a chess program) « to participate in human tournaments was Mac Hack (no, it wasn’t an Apple product), developed by Richard Greenblatt from 1965 to 1967. And it was the first program to defeat a (comparatively intelligent) human. » AlphaZero, for example, is an artificial intelligence program developed by Google’s affiliated AI Lab, DeepMind. The DeepMind algorithm can learn the game of chess from only the basis of the game rules and victory conditions as well as through intensive playing against itself.
To understand the evolution of the DeepMind algorithm as a chess engine, we have to remember the epic game between Garry Kasparov (former world chess champion) and DeepBlue in May of 1997 where Kasparov lost 4-2 against IBM’s DeepBlue SuperComputer. Deep Blue was able to analyse 200 million moves per minute and this achievement was a proof of mankind’s ability to build a machine in its own image.
Machine learning AI systems have since evolved into solving more complex problems, in 2014 Google acquired DeepMind and developed AlphaZero.
AlphaZero started playing chess against itself and within 4 hours, Google’s AI system had acquired enough Chess knowledge to defeat the 2016 Chess World Champion – Stockfish 8.
The paradox that AlphaZero created is that it is not an ‘engine’ but rather an artificial intelligence system that taught itself how to play chess. With no knowledge about the game except the basic rules at first, AlphaZero learned within 4 hours to not only play chess but to play with human-like moves.
Compared to the 2016 World championship winner Stockfish 8 (a chess engine) which processes about 60 million moves a second, AlphaZero played around a million chess games against itself within the 4 hours and learned strategies that makes it today a superhuman chess player with human-like moves.
The interesting parallel in which professional chess players learned how to play 40 years ago and now, is that “blitz-chess” and superfast games (with only one or three minutes per player per game) were disapproved and considered a waste of time and damaging the player’s chess skills. However today, all the current top chess players are superlative blitz-chess players and often take part in online Blitz Competitions.
« Artificial Intelligence is rapidly growing in the Gaming Industry and is present in more than 90% of today’s games ». The Applications of AI in our day-to-day life is also increasing and we are currently on the verge of seeing the next generation living in a world mostly defined by AI systems and it’s not a “Terminator” Movie robot trying to take over the human race but more of a Wall-E bot helping humans in our daily activities.



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