Watch an AI-propelled robot beat humans at curling

Chess, Go, curling — is no game safe?

I'm coming a bit late to this one, but as a Canadian I am morbidly fascinated to discover that a group of scientists created a curling robot and trained a neural net to play the game. When they faced off against a top-ranked Korean women's curling team, the robot — named "Curly" — won three out of four games.

It's actually a hard challenge, because as the scientists note in their paper, the interactions between the curling stones and the ice are super complicated, so their system has to manage a ton of uncertainty.

Still, as the creators aren't quite sure why Curly was so good compared to human players. They suggested some reasons, though:

However, the precise reason for the competitiveness of Curly against human teams is not clear. Three possibilities for explaining this effect exist in principle: (i) the human team lacks the social competitive edge and is too relaxed to the outcome of a match against a robot opponent; (ii) humans tend to become nervous during matches, whereas robots do not; and (iii) the AI strategy component is superior to the human strategic insight because it is able to consider more rare events and can factor elements of uncertainty more successfully.