Sep 05, 2016
Poker Bot Claudico To Be Used for Medical Treatments
By RTR Dennis
Last year, the poker bot ‘Claudico’ made numerous headlines for taking on some of the world’s toughest online poker players, including Doug Polk, Bjorn Li, Dong Kim, and Jason Les.
The human players won a combined $732,713 against the bot over 80,000 hands. While this may sound like a lot, the $732.7k profit represented less than 0.5% of the $170 million chips in play.
This shows that artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t as far off from competing against top Texas Hold’em players as one might think.
But according to Sam Ganzfried, one of the Carnegie Mellon University researchers who created Claudico, the end game for this poker super-bot isn’t to beat pros, but rather solve medical problems and other important issues.
“The computer poker research area is just a little over a decade old,” says Ganzfried. “The ideas are starting to have applications in medicine, security. It's exciting to see these applications develop.”
Let’s take a closer look at how Ganzfried hopes to use Claudico for everything from HIV treatments to airport security.
Claudico Can Solve Problems with Incomplete Information
The reason why the Carnegie Mellon researchers have spent so much time developing their A.I. program into the ultimate poker bot is because Texas Hold’em is a game of incomplete information.
Each player has two hole cards that only they can see, which is where the incomplete aspect comes in. The same processes that Claudico uses to solve a poker game without all of the information can be applied to other areas without complete info, like a disease.
As Ganzfried told TribLive, the trick is to look at issues like medical treatment as a zero-sum game like heads-up poker. When the patient wins and recovers, the disease loses. And it’s up to the AI to figure out an effective long-term strategy where the patient keeps winning.
Given that medical treatments can be an individualized matter, using a program that can calculate effective strategies with incomplete info is important to individuals. For example, Alberta University has taken an advanced poker bot and used it to process individualized diabetes treatments.
What about Online Poker Players Using This Advanced Technology?
While Ganzfried and other computer scientists are doing great things with these programs, poker players have often worried that opponents will get a hold of these sophisticated bots and dominate the game.
Bots are illegal in regulated markets, and those who use them can be prosecuted. But the unregulated market is a different story because there’s no government jurisdiction in these markets.
“Even though I've worked on the computer program for poker, I also play poker,” Ganzfried explains. “I certainly don't want these bots to have any adverse impact on a game. Certainly none of the academic researchers are making their bot code available or using it online.”
Of course, university poker AI’s aren’t the only ones in existence. Some people either develop their own programs, or buy bots off of programmers and use them in online poker games. With more successful bots hitting the poker scene, this has become a big problem for the game.
Ganzfried suggests that there could be sites that are only open to bots, or sites that at least identify which players are bots and which are humans.
Regardless of what happens with AIs in online poker, Ganzfried vows to keep using this technology to solve bigger problems in life.
“The goal for me is not to just build a poker program,” he says. “The goal is to study fundamental scientific questions that have broader applicability.”