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A Poker-Playing Robot Goes To Work for the Pentagon

In 2017, a poker bot called Libratus made headlines when it roundly defeated four top human players at no-limit Texas Hold 'Em. Now, Libratus' technology is being adapted to take on opponents of a different kind -- in service of the US Military. From a report: Libratus -- Latin for balanced -- was created by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University to test ideas for automated decision making based on game theory. Early last year, the professor who led the project, Tuomas Sandholm, founded a startup called Strategy Robot to adapt his lab's game-playing technology for government use, such as in war games and simulations used to explore military strategy and planning. Late in August, public records show, the company received a two-year contract of up to $10 million with the US Army. It is described as "in support of" a Pentagon agency called the Defense Innovation Unit, created in 2015 to woo Silicon Valley and speed US military adoption of new technology. [...] Sandholm declines to discuss specifics of Strategy Robot's projects, which include at least one other government contract. He says it can tackle simulations that involve making decisions in a simulated physical space, such as where to place military units. The Defense Innovation Unit declined to comment on the project, and the Army did not respond to requests for comment. Libratus' poker technique suggests Strategy Robot might deliver military personnel some surprising recommendations. Pro players who took on the bot found that it flipped unnervingly between tame and hyperaggressive tactics, all the while relentlessly notching up wins as it calculated paths to victory.

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