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Mercuric
Wed, May 13, 2015, 12:12pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S2: Peak Performance

Hoo boy, what a discussion!

People have a serious misunderstanding of computers here. When a computer plays chess, it computes its movements in advance. Those who said that the computer "does not consider board position" are incorrect. It in fact considers various outcomes as "good" or "bad". Generally, when utilizing proper strategy, the computer attempts to "minimize" the "maximum" outcome for the opponent. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimax In this way the computer will select its next move based on all future movements. This is what chess grandmasters can do. What they can do that computers can't is ignore obviously bad moves. Sometimes the computer won't recognize this, and will waste computational cycles calculating something that it doesn't need to which, combined with a time limit, can allow the human player to win. As computers have become faster and algorithms (made by humans) became smarter, this advantage is basically gone and will continue to shrink.

There should be no functional difference between Data "playing to win" and "playing to tie", because Data should be playing to generally minimize his opponent's best outcome assuming perfect play. With an imperfect opponent, Data's advantage is greater.

Some people mentioned Tic-Tac-Toe above. Like Checkers, Tic-Tac-Toe is "solved". When both players play optimally, the result is a draw. A computer (with the correct programming) cannot lose at Tic-Tac-Toe or Checkers. However, a sufficiently knowledgeable human can play them to a draw. The idea that the alien guy can even play Data to a draw in a game of dexterity and strategy is patently absurd, let alone the idea that he can thrash him first time.
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