Anyone who has ever played against the computer in a game of chess knows how far artificial intelligence has come regarding logical games. Computers have even beaten human grandmasters of chess. But we've still got a fighting chance in supposed games of randomness, right?
Wrong. Japanese researchers at the Ishikawa Oku Laboratory have invented a robot that is now capable of winning at rock paper scissors 100 percent of the time. The robot has never lost, proving that rock paper scissors may not really be a game of chance after all.
The researchers hope that the technology will help to improve human-machine cooperation systems.
"This technology is one example that show a possibility of cooperation control within a few milliseconds," the researchers wrote on their website. "And this technology can be applied to motion support of human beings and cooperation work between human beings and robots etc. without time delay."
Let's face it, though: if we can't even beat them at rock paper scissors, what would machines get out of such cooperation? Perhaps it's finally time to accept the inevitability of the robot takeover.
The robot's perfect record is possible thanks to high speed cameras, rapid processing time and near-instantaneous acuation of the robot hand. The robot is so fast that it can distinguish between a play of rock, paper or scissors almost as soon as the human hand begins to take form. It then shapes its own mechanical hand into the appropriate winning shape within 1 millisecond. It all happens so quickly that the robot gives the appearance of moving in concert with its opponent, without delay.
Technically, this means the robot is actually cheating-- it gets to see what its opponent will play before making its own move. But since the process happens so quickly, a naive opponent probably wouldn't know the difference. (No one said that the robot takeover had to be done fairly.)
Aside from proving the superiority of robots, the research also supports the intuition among professional rock paper scissor players (yes, there is a professional league) that the game is one of skill rather than chance. What the robot does may be similar to what 'expert' human players do, by identifying an opponent's move before they finish making it. Humans may also be capable of identifying their opponent's playing patterns, something the robot can't do-- not yet anyway. Even so, no human has a 100 percent win rate.
A video showcasing the robot playing against a human opponent at high speed can be seen below:
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