FOR ALMOST THREE weeks, Dong Kim sat at a casino in Pittsburgh and played poker against a machine. But Kim wasn’t just any poker player. This wasn’t just any machine. And it wasn’t just any game of poker.
Kim, 28, is among the best players in the world. The machine, built by two computer science researchers at Carnegie Mellon, is an artificially intelligent system that runs on a Pittsburgh supercomputer. And for twenty straight days, they played no-limit Texas Hold ‘Em, an especially complex form of poker in which betting strategies play out over dozens of hands.
About halfway through the competition, which ended this week, Kim started to feel like Libratus could see his cards. “I’m not accusing it of cheating,” he said. “It was just that good.” So good, in fact, that it beat Kim and three more of the world’s top human players—a first for artificial intelligence.
During the competition, the creators of Libratus were coy about how the system worked—how it managed to be so successful, how it mimicked human intuition in a way no other machine ever had. But as it turns out, this AI reached such heights because it wasn’t just one AI.
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