The Latin translation corresponds to “with several” I would say. Addressed here specifically is the poker game against several opponents probably. A regular poker set up: No Limit Texas Holdem at a table of six. A fortress of human decision-making power now attacked by the algorithm “pluribus”. And as we learned – since July 11th, 2019 – “it” was victorious.
After Chess and Go, we are now inferior in the perhaps most complex classic mental exercise of artificial intelligence as “genius human”.
What a insult.
What a development!
How can this be classified or understood in a nutshell?
After the great victory of Deep Blue over Garry Kasparov in 1996, the immense ambition to create better chess machines than world chess champions gave way to the vision of making computers successful on the free market. Chess is caught on his board. There are limits of all kinds. The field. The figures. The moves. All truth, every information, is open in itself. It’s “only” a question, who can see how comprehensively, judge and decide accordingly?
It’s completely different in poker. Poker is much more human than chess. “Doing the wrong thing, but at the right moment” turns a good one into an excellent poker player.
How should a machine even understand the meaning of this deep quote from the movie “Cincinnati Kid”? With pitfalls like these developers were challenged worldwide – and now it is solved.
It took place step by step.
In the spring of 2011, my colleague Stefan Rapp and I competed against the “Fat Tony” program, led by Prof. Dr. Fürnkranz at the University of Darmstadt. The software was coded for “Limit Poker 1vs1”. The match was set up by mirrored cards, meaning that team computer was faced with the same decisions as the human team.
Stefan and I won back then. Although Fat Tony had a much, much easier setup than pluribus today.
Tony never had to decide how high – but only if it bets. This is a huge difference. Because zero or one is the core of computers, but to make an offer creatively, that’s something human! On top of that Tony had the advantage of a duel one-on-one, with no heated, irrational interaction between different opponents at the same time. “Man on man” is way easier to categorize than a wild marketplace, where offers sometimes simply are made due to a personal reaction from a third party.
Human poker players beat a whopping 15 years after Deep Blue its poker playing colleagues in their home game by human judgment. I was pretty sure that it would remain that way for a long time. Just eight years later, however, I am disproved. Pluribus has taken all hurdles. How was that possible?
Pluribus – in contrast to its even very considerable predecessors – did not learn from humans playing poker.
The “newborn little Pluribus” was just presented the complete set of rules including the aim of the game. From there on, the program was on its own. Pluribus played and played against versions of himself. In a few days it had billions of hands of experience. Being a massive looser against virtually every amateur player during his first billions of gambling decisions, it now beats everything and everyone by virtue of his constant learning process.
It should give us some encouragement.: Getting up again and again as an improved version of himself – this pays off apparently.
Of course, it is also frightening: Where is all this leading to, if machines even play poker better than we do?
Mathematic as the language of logic is – as so often – the winner.
We should realize that, accept that and start building up reasonably for the future on this basis.
Most important is your own attitude to consciousness and consequence.
Let us be aware of what mathematics can do and, consequently, let’s be curious about it.
If it were still valid today to say that mathematicians are sitting only in their own ivory towers anyway, then it would also be correct to say: The world simply is an ivory tower.
About the author: Stephan Kalhamer
Stephan Kalhamer is a mathematician and successful poker coach. In 2011 he led the German team to the title of world champion and in 2013 to the EM title of amateur. In addition, since 2009 he is honorary president of the German Poker Federation and author of several books on the subject of “poker”. He acts as a speaker and advises companies.
The original article was written in German by Stephan and published here – http://summa.stiftungrechnen.de/pluribus/