Computer Wins Rock Paper Scissors, Signals End of Humanity

Lindsay Mannering

rock paper scissorsAs a kid we used to settle things all the time with a best out of three game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. With three siblings, I got a lot of practice. And it was amazing how accepted it was a decision maker. If you lost the game, sorry, it's the middle seat for you on that two-hour road trip to Grandma's -- and it was totally understandable. I fancy myself a cunning RPS athlete with cat-like speed and intuitive reflexes, but I've met my match.

The New York Times featured a piece on artificial intelligence and pits You against Computer in an ingenious game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. It's a fantastic, fun, and interesting experiment that will kill hours of your time, and maybe a few brain cells as well.

I probably shouldn't admit this, but I spent a solid hour and a half playing the game. I found myself getting very competitive, then disappointed, then defeated, then absolutely decided that the computer was cheating. I've found that these are clearly the un-talked about four stages of Rock Paper Scissors.

There are two levels of the computer's intelligence: novice and veteran. The novice setting has no prior experience and is playing as a human would, a super super smart human. It notices your patterns and makes predictions on what you'll throw next, then will defeat you. It will beat you because it will exploit your tendencies. Sneaky!

If that's not hard enough (I ended up with a novice record of 45-13-41), you can play the veteran. This bitch knows its shit. It's been uploaded with over 200,000 previous games experience, and will use everything in its power to destroy you. I care not to share my record vs. the Vet because I tried really hard, really thought about each move, and it freaking dominated me.

The basis behind this game's artificial intelligence is the fact that humans are not explicitly random and can therefore be studied, analyzed, and loaded into a mechanical Rock Paper Scissors hand. It will take advantage of you -- and you won't even see it coming.

I find this game, and the A.I. that it demonstrates, both auspicious and ominous. Maybe I've watched too many robot movies, but I really hope we only use A.I. for good and not for evil.

Did you play? Whatdya think?

Photos via striatica/Flickr

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