Scientists have devised a way to ensure genetically modified organisms can be safely confined in the environment, overcoming a major obstacle to widespread use of GMOs in agriculture, energy production, waste management, and medicine.
Until Cepheus came along. Bowling and his team instructed the computer to play billions of poker games against itself. Initially, they taught Cepheus only the basic rules of Texas Hold’em. The computer started off playing randomly, but eventually it began to learn. Cepheus started compiling lists of “regrets”—situations in which it could have folded or bluffed or bet differently, and won more money by doing so. The researchers then programmed Cepheus to begin acting on its most serious regrets, while ignoring its more minor regrets.
Ultimately, Cepheus whittled its list of regrets nearly down to zero. Now the program can bet and bluff with the best. “If you do this in a precise mathematical way, you can prove your regrets are guaranteed to go down to zero,” Bowling says. “And in the process of approaching zero, you must be approaching perfect play.”
Cepheus isn’t perfect, but it is guaranteed not to lose in the long run. That’s about as good as it gets for a game that still relies partially on chance. Cepheus’ performance has other experts in the field of artificial intelligence excited. “It’s a really interesting paper, with a convincing argument that a particular form of poker has been essentially solved,” says Howard Williams, a computer scientist and doctoral student at Queen Mary University of London, who was not involved in the study.
Beyond poker, Bowling envisions a new set of algorithms that could help security officers optimize checkpoints, random searches and placement of air marshals on flights. In these situations, a program like Cepheus could be taught to view potential terrorists as other players in a high-stakes game rife with variables. “That’s very close to what we have achieved here for the game of poker. It’s a strategy guaranteed not to lose,” he says.
If, however, you find yourself tempted (I know I am), Bowling and his team have set up a website where you can try your luck against Cepheus itself—the one computer program that always knows when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em.
When the general public hears about the Human Brain Project (HBP), they immediately think about the possible medical breakthroughs the project will enable, like accelerated development of diagnostic tools and treatments for brain diseases or personalized medicine.
The rapidly evolving ecosystems associated with personal data is creating an entirely new field of scientific study, say computer scientists. And this requires a much more powerful ethics-based infrastructure.
Every cell in your body reads the same genome, the DNA-encoded instruction set that builds proteins. But your cells couldn’t be more different. Neurons send electrical messages, liver cells break down chemicals, muscle cells move the body. How do cells employ the same basic set of genetic instructions to carry out their own specialized tasks?…