An artificial intelligence has beaten eight world champions at bridge, a game in which human supremacy has resisted the march of the machines until now.
The victory represents a new milestone for AI because in bridge players work with incomplete information and must react to the behaviour of several other players – a scenario far closer to human decision-making.
In contrast, chess and Go – in both of which AIs have already beaten human champions – a player has a single opponent at a time and both are in possession of all the information.
“What we’ve seen represents a fundamentally important advance in the state of artificial intelligence systems,” said Stephen Muggleton, a professor of machine learning at Imperial College London.
French startup NukkAI announced the news of its AI’s victory on Friday, at the end of a two-day tournament in Paris.
The NukkAI challenge required the human champions to play 800 consecutive deals divided into 80 sets of 10. It did not involve the initial bidding component of the game during which players arrive at a contract that they must then meet by playing their cards.
Each champion played their own and their “dummy” partner’s cards against a pair of opponents. These opponents were the best robot champions in the world to date – robots that have won many robot competitions but that are universally acknowledged to be nowhere near as good as expert human players.