A Facebook-created AI has defeated six elite professional poker players in a game of Texas hold-em, as reported on Thursday.
This marks an unprecedented feat in AI development as the first time the technology has defeated two or more human professionals in a complex game.
A joint collaboration project between researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Facebook, Pluribus, won the equivalent of $5 per hand and $1000 throughout the entire game, according to Facebook.
The AI first bested two poker champions, Darren Elias and Chris Ferguson, who both played 5000 hands against it.
The players were surprised by its unpredictable methods.
Elias said that it’s major strength is that it can send “mixed messages.”
"That's the same thing that humans try to do. It's a matter of execution for humans -- to do this in a perfectly random way and to do so consistently. Most people just can't."
Noami Brown, who works for Facebook's AI team said that the bot "might even change the way pros play the game."
In another experiment, Pluribus went up against 13 contestants, five at a time. According to researchers, out of the 10,000 played hands, the program emerged as the ultimate victor.
The program uses an online search algorithm which can predict several moves ahead and practices against itself for games which require hidden information and bluffing techniques.
Tuomas Sandholm, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, wrote in the US Journal of Science that Pluribus “achieved superhuman performance at multi-player poker which is a recognized milestone in artificial intelligence and in game theory."
The players involved in the experiment also recognised the achievement.
Chris Ferguson, a World Series Poker champion who tested the early version of the bot, said in a company blog post: "The bot went from being a beatable mediocre player to competing with the best players in the world in a few weeks."
"It was also satisfying to see that a lot of the strategies the bot employs are things that we do already in poker at the highest level. To have your strategies more or less confirmed as correct by a supercomputer is a good feeling."
Jimmy Chou, another advanced poker player, admitted that even he picks up something new when he plays the AI opponent and said humans often “oversimplify” the game.
The creators of Pluribus have said that the technology could potentially help to solve a "wide variety of real-world problems" which, as poker does, require uncovering critical secret information.