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Losing Games To Artificial Intelligence Is Helping Humanity Advance

In contests between humans and machines, humans keep losing — but at least we're getting something out of our defeats.

Google's AlphaGo, the artificial intelligence designed to play the strategy game Go, recently beat the top-ranked player. It also beat a team of five world-class Go players — by itself.

The victory is historic for AI because AlphaGo is programmed to teach itself the game instead of working from a defined set of commands.

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It has now retired from competitions to focus on other tasks, like finding cures for diseases.

IBM's Watson followed a similar path. It defeated the person who held the longest winning streak in "Jeopardy" history, and then it entered the medical field. It's already diagnosed a woman with a rare form of cancer that doctors couldn't identify.

There's also an AI that plays Texas Hold'em. It outplayed four professional poker players by about $1.75 million in chips. Its technology is expected to be harnessed in fields where using misinformation to negotiate can be a benefit, like in military strategy or business negotiations.

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