Microsoft Introduces Mahjong AI that Can Beat Top Human Players

Microsoft’s AI mahjong bot can deal with “high uncertainty” and present human-like instincts, executive says. — SCMP

Following Elon Musk and Jack Ma’s debate at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference about computers’ superiority to humans in games such as chess and Go, Microsoft introduced at the very same event a new AI, the sole purpose of which is to best people in the game of Mahjong.

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Microsoft’s Executive Vice President of Artificial Intelligence & Research Harry Shum announced that the company’s Asia research division had created the strongest Mahjong AI in history, which can outdo even the best human players. The AI named Suphx is capable of learning self-taught game strategies and tactics through playing on a Japanese mahjong competition platform Tenhou that has over 300,000 registered users. Suphx reached the top of the Tenhou gamer hierarchy in just under five months, after playing 5,000 games and accumulating a massive amount of experience.

“Mahjong is more complex than other board games, so playing mahjong is an art as well as a science. Good mahjong players rely on a combination of observation, intuition, strategy, calculation and chance that presents unique challenges for an AI system,” said corporate vice president of Microsoft Asia Pacific R&D Group Hsiao-Wuen Hon.

Shum believes that the high degree of uncertainty that is typical of mahjong is of no concern to Suphx, which demonstrates human-like intuition, prediction skills, reasoning, vague decision-making ability and the awareness of the overall situation in game.

IBM’s supercomputer Deep Blue outperformed the then world chess champion Gary Kasparov in 1997 in a historic matchup that was widely covered in press and discussed in scientific circles. In 2017, Google’s AlphaGo defeated South Korean Go master Lee Sedol, setting another milestone in the development of AI. Recently, the Tencent-developed Wukong AI vanquished a human team in the Mobile Game Honor of Kings