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The Nillabyte Perspective: Technology

Rock, Paper, Scissors Versus Artificial Intelligence


While to some Rock, Paper, Scissors is merely a childish game, there are others that take it quite seriously. I fall between these two extremes, having long ago stumbled on a strategy that allows me to win more often than not. So when I found this interesting simulator on the New York Times website, I couldn't resist trying my hand against the artificially intelligent application.

According to statistical theory, if the game were completely random results would be split evenly with each opponent winning 1/3 of the rounds, and 1/3 turning into a tie. But adding logic means that the game is not random. My results, with the game set to "Novice" were 10 wins for each with only one tie. Not bad, although not quite as good as I usually do against a human opponent. Against the "Veteran" computer, my results were approximately the same. I got off to an early lead at 6 wins and 3 losses, but then the computer began to catch up. I'm guessing that since the veteran computer uses results from over 200,000 other games to predict, my early lead is the result of my strategy usually working against most humans, but then the computers perfect memory of our matches began to allow it to predict my moves better. The end result was again a tie at 10 wins each.

It's interesting to note that the computer opponent has a perfect memory. The game allows you to get a peek inside its logic, and in between rounds you can see it analyzing your past play for patterns that it can exploit for a win.

Try it out for yourself and let us know how you did. Any unbeatable strategies?

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