Chess changed forever today. And maybe the rest of the world did, too.
A little more than a year after AlphaGo sensationally won against the top Go player, the artificial-intelligence program AlphaZero has obliterated the highest-rated chess engine.
Stockfish, which for most top players is their go-to preparation tool, and which won the 2016 TCEC Championship and the 2017 Chess.com Computer Chess Championship, didn’t stand a chance. AlphaZero won the closed-door, 100-game match with 28 wins, 72 draws, and zero losses.
Oh, and it took AlphaZero only four hours to “learn” chess. Sorry humans, you had a good run.
That’s right — the programmers of AlphaZero, housed within the DeepMind division of Google, had it use a type of “machine learning,” specifically reinforcement learning. Put more plainly, AlphaZero was not “taught” the game in the traditional sense. That means no opening book, no endgame tables, and apparently no complicated algorithms dissecting minute differences between center pawns and side pawns.
A milestone. Or not.