An earlier version of the software called Tartanian 7 (PDF) was successful in winning the heads-up, no-limit Texas Hold'em category against other computers in July, but Sandholm says that does not necessarily mean it will be able to defeat a human in the complex game. "I think it's a 50-50 proposition," says Sandholm. "My strategy will change more so than when playing against human players," says competitor Doug Polk, widely considered the world's best player, with total live tournament earnings of more than $3.6 million. "I think there will be less hand reading so to speak, and less mind games. In some ways I think it will be nice as I can focus on playing a more pure game, and not have to worry about if he thinks that I think, etc."
Russell, 53, a professor of computer science and founder of the Center for Intelligent Systems at the University of California, Berkeley, has long been contemplating the power and perils of thinking machines. He is the author of more than 200 papers as well as the field's standard textbook, Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach (with Peter Norvig, head of research at Google). But increasingly rapid advances in artificial intelligence have given Russell's longstanding concerns heightened urgency.
Gone are the days of entering a country with a false passport and wearing a wig and a mustache to hide your true identity. Once an iris scan is on record, it becomes nearly impossible to evade detection. 'In the 21st century, you can't do any of that because of biometrics,' said retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
The approach Google's researchers took goes beyond simply verifying whether two faces are the same. Its system can also put a name to a face—classic facial recognition—and even present collections of faces that look the most similar or the most distinct. Every advance in facial recognition makes me think of Paul Theroux's dystopian Ozone.