# Can you beat this mind-reading machine invented in 1953?

In 1953 information theorist Claude Shannon wrote a short memo titled "A Mind-Reading (?) Machine" (PDF). It describes a game between a human and an algorithm. The human sits at a table. On the table is a machine with a lever that can be moved left or right. The machine's algorithm makes a secret prediction about which way the human will move the lever. If the algorithm successfully predicted which direction the human moved the lever, it scores a point. If the algorithm failed to predict the correct move, the human scores a point.

Try it yourself here. It's very difficult to beat the game!

The algorithm is simple. From Shannon's memo:

Basically, the machine looks for certain types of patterns in the behavior of its human opponent. If it can find these patterns it remembers them and assumes that the player will follow the patterns the next time the same situation arises. The machine also contains a random element. Until patterns have been found, or if an assumed pattern is not repeated at least twice by the player, the machine chooses its move at random.
The types of patterns remembered involve the outcome of two successive plays (that is, whether or not the player won on those plays) and whether he changed his choice between them and after them. There are eight possible situations and, for each of these, two things the player can do. The eight situations are:

The player wins, plays the same, and wins. He may then play the same or differently.

The player wins, plays the same, and loses. He may then play the same or differently.

The player wins, plays differently, and wins. He may then play the same or differently.

The player wins, plays differently, and loses. He may then play the same or differently.

The player loses, plays the same, and wins. He may then play the same or differently.

The player loses, plays the same, and loses. He may then play the same or differently.

The player loses, plays differently, and wins. He may then play the same or differently.

The player loses, plays differently, and loses. He may then play the same or differently

Shannon was considered a pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence. Here are some quotes from him on the subject:

Question: Do you find it depressing that chess computers are getting so strong?
Answer: I am not depressed by it. I am rooting for machines. I have always been on the machines' side.

Question: Will robots be complex enough to be friends of people, do you think?
Answer: I think so. But it's quite a way ahead. (From his interview in the Collected Papers)

When asked whether he thinks machines can think: "You bet. I'm a machine and you're a machine, and we both think, don't we?" (From his biography in the Collected Papers)