AI Wins Paris Bridge Competition: Future Tense for Human Beings?
Humans have lost the Paris Bridge Competition to AI in 2022. Now what?
The race between technology and human beings has been a recurring theme in science fiction for more than a century. With human civilization witnessing phenomenal and unforeseen growth in high tech in the last few decades, the experiments of technology competing with the human agency have become much sharper and more frequent. There is no prize for guessing that much of it is occurring due to the exponential growth of AI. Recently, an artificial intelligence machine won the Paris Bridge Competition over human players and now the future in the gaming industry is dicey for humans. A very recent addition to such a stream of experimental exercises was found in Paris. NukkAI, a French start-up, organized a bridge competition in which the AI was able to defeat some of the world’s best-known bridge players— as many as eight world champions. Let us recollect, that while a bridge may be the latest entrant to such competition testing the limits of both artificial intelligence and human beings, there are precedents of such genre in which chess and video games were pitted against some of the world’s leading players, and the results were the same. AI won hands-on. The question that stares at us is, what does it portend for the future?
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Those who tend to undermine such developments argue that such events should not be amplified to announce the verdict against human agency. For instance, in the aforementioned case, some observers point out that the Bridge game was not held on a one-on-one basis. The defeat was handed over by AI, in similar conditions, to computer-driven ‘competitors’ designed by human beings. Thus, it was not a directly inflicted defeat, contrary to what many tech enthusiasts are trying to put forth. There is also the argument that the competition did not follow the conventional grammar of bridge games in which ‘bidding’ is an inalienable act. Simply put, players in the Paris Bridge competition are to bid at the beginning of a round by openly declaring to other players in the game that by how many tricks their team will win. It is important as it relates to a set of agreements and understandings vis-à-vis calls and the sequence of calls decided by a set of partners. If this part is missing, as was the case in the Bridge game being discussed here, the argument goes that the game was only partial.
Does this on the other end mean that the event should be written off completely? The answer is ‘better not’. Why? It is because dismissing it as an event of no significance would undermine an important phase of AI’s evolution, and more specifically its growing sophistication by experimenting with innovative modes. In the case of the NukkAI-organized Bridge competition, the researchers are stated to have used the neurosymbolic approach which claims to have made a judicious mix of Deep Learning and ‘largely discarded’ AI concepts. The researchers also used a ‘search technique’, a particular variety of the well-known Monte Carlo Tree Search algorithm that through an intricate process marked by multiple stages brings out the best move out of a set of moves to arrive at the best solution.
The Paris Bridge competition need not be over-hyped in favor of artificial intelligence. But at the same time, it needs to be analyzed for a deeper understanding of developments in the longstanding issue of tech-human relations. Thus, we have to wait for a long time to see whether AI will always have the winning streak against human players in the gaming industry or not.