In Sci-Fi as in Life

When dealing with evil robots or rogue AI, one of the most common science fiction plot devices is for the human hero to do or think of something that the machine couldn’t understand – something only a human would do. It’s about as cliché and formulaic as cliché and formulaic gets.

Here’s a plot twist: according to a recently published research paper, thinking like a human (albeit a stupid human) can be a winning strategy against an otherwise invincible AI.

Back in 2016, DeepMind’s AlphaGo changed the world by beating some of the world’s best Go players. (Go is an ancient Chinese game that was, up to that time, considered unwinnable by a machine. Have a look at AlphaGo vs. You: Not a Fair Fight for reference.) Today, you can run KataGo, an open source Go-playing AI, and easily beat top-ranking human Go players.

Here’s the interesting part. Researchers showed that by playing unexpected moves outside of KataGo’s training set, a much weaker adversarial Go-playing program (one that even amateur humans can defeat) can trick KataGo into losing. In other words, you can play like a stupid human to win. This strategy is right out of the Star Trek playbook, and I love it!

Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I am not, nor is my company, receiving compensation for it.

About Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Good Day New York, is a regular commentator on CNN and writes a popular daily business blog. He's a bestselling author, and the creator of the popular, free online course, Generative AI for Execs. Follow @shellypalmer or visit



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