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greedyG
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Joined: Sun Oct 24, 2010 8:32 pm
Years playing backgammon: 18+ mostly online bot games with gnubg analysis FIBS rating 1850
Location: USA

Backgammon AI link to AlphaGo

Thu Dec 26, 2019 9:25 pm

Are you saying you don't know about the defeat of Lee Sedol by AlphaGo AI software? Don't you have Computer Science and AI news in your Google News recommend settings? How can you miss it? The match up was considered to be a milestone in computer vs human games and AI development. Here is a video documentary if you are interested.

The similarity between backgammon and Go as it relates to the software is that both use AI algorithms. Being that backgammon AI development goes back to the 1990s is a testament to the true cutting edge level of software development sophistication that backgammon developers had achieved. Developers that worked on Gnubg open source project gave us a most valuable gift. Thank you gnubg developers! And it would not be unreasonable to assume that AlphaGo developers may have learned from open source bg AI code to build their system. The lead developer mentioned in a speech somewhere that they used "rollout" to train their AI Go player which sounds like a BG AI feature.

Go has long been considered a game where top human players reign over computer programs. Until AlphaGo came on the scene, top rated Go players would routinely thrash any computer opponent with ease. Successful AI implementation of Go changed that. So that is the link to BG and Go. Otherwise, they are not at all similar in gameplay. Go is not a gambling game. It is pure skill. No luck element to it like backgammon. Backgammon we deal with "probabilities" and calculate our chances while dealing with the uncertainties of the dice. For those of us who are not brute force "logic whores" hahaha.. who did i get that language from? Backgammon provides a wonderful pastime with the perfect blend of skill to luck to keep the game interesting for all skill levels.

I don't understand the aversion to the cube in backgammon. I have noticed that many Turkish players that I happen to look in on their bot games on GreedyGAmmon, they NEVER turn the cube, they ALWAYS accept a double, and if they gain the upper hand, they NEVER redouble LOL... wtf? Why?

I have also observed on some public servers like Yahoo/Pogo, that people sometimes get upset when the cube is offered. They view it as a rude challenge or what I don't know.. hahaha.. they get angry and start spewing idiotic crap. There are a lot of strange people out there, and some of them find their way to an online backgammon game. Thankfully I discovered FIBS and could enjoy bot games and watch and play experienced bg players.

Cube handling is not about "luck". It requires an understanding of the strength of your position and that of your opponent and with match games, you must also understand the score considerations of whether or not to take or drop a cube. When you don't understand these points, you make mistakes and your opponent gains an advantage. While there is always a luck factor in backgammon, players who make fewer mistakes always meet in the finals. Luck by itself will not get you far in a room full of expert players. Especially at the match lengths that they play. By wishing to eliminate the cube, you are basically dumbing down the game to rely less on skill and more on luck. If you play short matches 3/5 you will have plenty of chances to practice your 1 pt match strategy when the score is 1 away 1 away. Nothing wrong with playing 1 pt match if that is the mood you are in. Sometimes we don't want to play long matches. But if the cube bothers you, there is something wrong with your thinking. Whether a position is a double or not is a fascinating challenging puzzle. Here is a video of such a moment i posted in the forum with Akiko thinking a long time about a cube action. viewtopic.php?f=31&t=297
How is that not a wonderful exciting edge of your seat gameplay?

One thing amusing to me when watching events like Kasparov vs Deep Blue, and recently the AlphaGo vs Lee Sedol is how people perceive the computer opponent, as if it is an alien from another planet. They can't seem to understand that programmers coded every line of code telling the machine what to do. What is particularly difficult for them to understand is how someone who can't beat Kasparov at chess, can write software to play better than the programmer. I tried to explain this to my Uncle (who used to be a strong checkers player before he suffered a stroke) once many years ago. Trying to explain "a tree and searches, values to each piece, each block on the board is coded, each click is routed to mdules to handle the event" He was amazed. But he kept asking "but HOW" haha.. i guess it is like magic at the certain point.

Bottom line is it is not computer vs humans, it is human programmers against humans. AI is a tool that has helped us improve many aspects of not only games. We should use it to improve our games, our skills. Abandoning a game because AI happens to be better than human is childishly absurd.
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