Is Online Poker Facing Existential Risk?

TAGs: Heads-Up Sit n Go

Is Online Poker Facing Existential Risk?Lee Davy opines about the recent furor over the use of voice activated remote software used to gain considerable edges in online Heads-Up Sit n Go games.

In my bid to become an effective altruist I have been gorging on works by Peter Singer. There is an interesting chapter in his book The Most Good You Can Do entitled Preventing Human Extinction.

Singer believes there are eight potential ways to fuck ourselves in the ass, ranging from: collision with a badass asteroid to death by nuclear war. But the one that grabbed my attention was death by ‘superintelligent unfriendly artificial intelligence.’

Singer writes:

“Some computer scientists believe that at some point during the present century, artificial intelligence will surpass human intelligence and will then be independent of human control. If so, it might be sufficiently hostile to humans to eliminate us.”

The reason this threat is discussed in a book centered on effective altruism, is because is raises the ethical point of whether we should donate money to research into ways of mitigating such threats of existential risk.

Singer is not alone in his thoughts.

Like Singer, Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and Bill Gates are very smart cookies. They too, like Singer, believe that the threat of artificial intelligence (AI) is very real.

Speaking to The Guardian Hawking said: “The primitive forms of artificial intelligence we already have, have proved very useful. But I think the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”

Elon Musk has gone a step further. The Tesla Motors and SpaceX founder recently donated $10 million to The Future of Life Institute for a grant that will allow them to carry out research into ways of keeping AI in check.

It won’t work.

Greed will be our eventual downfall.

I often view poker as a microcosm of life, and the recent debate over the use of varying forms of AI, during online Heads Up Sit n Go’s (HUSNG), is an example of greed versus sensibility.

When you strip poker down to its underwear it is a game. Games create enjoyment, happiness and fun. But poker is also a vehicle for amassing wealth. There is a continuum with play money recreational types at one end, and ruthless win-at-all-costs professionals at the other. If online poker doesn’t balance that particular seesaw, the game could end up extinct.

Flush Draw’s Haley Hintze has written an excellent piece on the recent furor over the use of software in HUSNG’s. I strongly suggest you check it out. A London based player, known only as Skier_5, has created a form of technology that is allowing him to rise through the profit ranks at a quickening pace. We are not talking HUDs here. We are talking about highly sophisticated voice-recognition software that can play HUSNG poker with the best of them.

This bot type piece of equipment is not being used in your piddly little online poker site with servers hidden somewhere in the Far East. This piece of equipment is being used on PokerStars, the largest, and most respected, online poker network in the world. Furthermore, from everything that I have read, they have inspected the technology, and believe it is ok to use.

What is happening to our game?

Where did this begin?

It began with data mining sites and HUDs. It began with the desperate want and desire to earn more money than anyone else sitting at the table. That’s where it began. This is where we are. How do you think it’s going to end?

I believe online poker will one day face an existential risk. If some of our greatest minds are worried enough to invest $10m into research to mitigate the growth of AI, then what chance do we stand when trying to protect a game of poker? We even have research teams in Carnegie developing bots specifically designed to beat humans at online poker, as we recently saw in the Man v Machine games involving Doug Polk, Jason Les et al.

The humans won that match. The scientists declared it a tie. They also said that the data gathered from the games would be sufficient enough to make the necessary tweaks to beat the humans within the next 12-months.

People laughed when Bodog created the ‘Recreational Player Model’. They were viewed as the fish. They didn’t have a clue what they were doing. They were ruining our game. How ironic that this could be our only route to survival?

Change will be slow. Greed will make sure of that. HUSNG games create an awful lot of rake. Greed is what got us to this impasse. Greed will ensure that the game will eventually consume itself. The world has Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates.

Who does online poker have?


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