A New Artificial Intelligence Makes Mistakes—on Purpose

It took about 50 years for computers to eviscerate humans in the venerable game of chess. A standard smartphone can now play the kind of moves that make a grandmaster’s head spin. But one artificial intelligence program is taking a few steps backward, to appreciate how average humans play—blunders and all.

The AI chess program, known as Maia, uses the kind of cutting-edge AI behind the best superhuman chess-playing programs. But instead of learning how to destroy an opponent on the board, Maia focuses on predicting human moves, including the mistakes they make.

Jon Kleinberg, a professor at Cornell University who led the development of Maia, says this is a first step toward developing AI that better understands human fallibility. The hope is that it may therefore be better at interacting with humans, by teaching or assisting them, for example, or even negotiating with them.

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