08-09-06 - 4

Chess programs like Deep Blue answer the wrong question, and IMHO it's not a very interesting one : can a brute force computer program beat a human? Sure. What's more interesting is : can a top human do better against a range of competition than the computer can? eg. does a human's awareness of the metagame and other players allow them to beat brute force simulation of the game.

Think about RoShamBo. Obviously a computer playing {random} cannot be beat. But that's not the interesting question, the more interesting thing is how to maximize your record against a range of smart & not so smart opponents. The same thing is true for poker. A poker program playing the game theory solution cannot be beat, but it may be far from optimal against a range of bad opponents, and humans playing against humans may be able to do far better by using the metagame and side channels of communication (speech, body language, etc., eg. the main channel of communication is the game action sequence, but there are side channels which can improve your play).

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old rants