20Q.net Plays Past 50,000,000 games

20Q.net, the wildly popular online game and artificial intelligence, played its 50 millionth game on April 16th. To date, the game has asked close to one billion questions! (Relatively speaking, one billion seconds is roughly 31 years!) And, when we take into account all the time it has spent playing games, we’d put the 20Q’s age at about 95 “people” years. The site hosts tens of thousands of players daily, using every game as a learning opportunity and getting a little smarter each time. What was the object that stumped the 20Q A.I. the last time you played?

With this milestone also comes a series of 20Q specialty games. Using the same A.I. engine, 20Q is quickly becoming an expert in Music, Sports, Movies, T.V. and People. It won’t be long until it tackles a famous wizarding world, a time traveler with a British accent, a well-known street, and a Recognized Text of the Past. It’s too soon to tell but, someday, 20Q might even help you select a baby name (check out the 20Q Name Game.)

20Q is an artificial intelligence, a website, a company and a phenomenon that speaks for itself at http://20q.net. Players think of an animal, vegetable, mineral, or other item and 20Q guesses what they are thinking in twenty questions, or less.20q

Inventor Robin Burgener has nurtured the technology since its creation in 1988. The 20Q A.I. played 2,000 games in the first 10 years of its existence. In the past eighteen months, that number has exponentially increased to over 50 million games. 20Q has been translated into 22 languages, and the specialty versions of the handheld electronic game, 20Q Rock and Pop, Sports and Junior are in stores now. 20Q Mobile for the cell phone is licensed to I-play. The 20Q technology also has strong potential for applications in medical devices, search engines, tech support, machine diagnostics, and large e-commerce websites.

Licensed to Radica Games, Ltd. and Mattel, more than 12 million of the popular and addictive handheld versions have been sold. The handheld 20Q game won the 2006 Toy Industry Association’s Electronic Toy of the Year Award and received U.K. Toy Retailers’ Association Special Recognition Award. Now that 20Q.net is available in over 20 languages, even more people around the world can test its knowledge.

How to win at Rock-Paper-Scissors

Earlier this month, YouTube Hunter found some riveting rock-paper-scissors footage. Today, Rocketboom has more, including classic interviews with the world’s best RPS athletes.

(That’s right, I said RPS. If you want to sound like an insider at the upcoming World RPS Championships, you should too.)

Want to play like a champion, and compete for the $10,000 prize? From the World RPS Society:

Contrary to what you might think RPS is not simply a game of luck or chance. While it is true that from a mathematical perspective the ‘optimum’ strategy is to play randomly, it still is not a winning strategy for two reasons.

First, ‘optimum’ in this case means you should win, lose and draw an equal number of times (hardly a winning strategy over the long term). Second, Humans, try as they might, are terrible at trying to be random, in fact often humans in trying to approximate randomness become quite predictable. So knowing that there is always something motivating your opponent’s actions, there are a couple of tricks and techniques that you can use to tip the balance in your favour.

The top secrets to winning at RPS — courtesy of Graham Walker, Director of Management of the World RPS Society.

1 – Rock is for Rookies
In RPS circles a common mantra is “Rock is for Rookies” because males have a tendency to lead with Rock on their opening throw. It has a lot to do with idea that Rock is perceived as “strong” and forceful”, so guys tend to fall back on it. Use this knowledge to take an easy first win by playing Paper. This tactic is best done in pedestrian matches against someone who doesn’t play that much and generally won’t work in tournament play.

2 – Scissors on First
The second step in the ‘Rock is for Rookies’ line of thinking is to play scissors as your opening move against a more experienced player. Since you know they won’t come out with rock (since it is too obvious), scissors is your obvious safe move to win against paper or stalemate to itself.Rock Paper Scissors

3 – The Double Run
When playing with someone who is not experienced at the RPS, look out for double runs or in other words, the same throw twice. When this happens you can safely eliminate that throw and guarantee yourself at worst a stalemate in the next game. So, when you see a two-Scissor run, you know their next move will be Rock or Paper, so Paper is your best move. Why does this work? People hate being predictable and the perceived hallmark of predictability is to come out with the same throw three times in row.

4 – Telegraph Your Throw
Tell your opponent what you are going to throw and then actually throw what you said. Why? As long as you are not playing someone who actually thinks you are bold enough to telegraph your throw and then actually deliver it, you can eliminate the throw that beats the throw you are telegraphing. So, if you announce rock, your opponent won’t play paper which means coming out with that scissors will give you at worst a stalemate and at best the win.

5 – Step Ahead Thinking
Don’t know what to do for your next throw? Try playing the throw that would have lost to your opponents last throw? Sounds weird but it works more often than not, why? Inexperienced (or flustered) players will often subconsciously deliver the throw that beat their last one. Therefore, if your opponent played paper, they will very often play Scissors, so you go Rock. This is a good tactic in a stalemate situation or when your opponent lost their last game. It is not as successful after a player has won the last game as they are generally in a more confident state of mind which causes them to be more active in choosing their next throw.

Bet Live

6 – Suggest A Throw
When playing against someone who asks you to remind them about the rules, take the opportunity to subtly “suggest a throw” as you explain to them by physically showing them the throw you want them to play. ie “Paper beats Rock, Rock beats scissors (show scissors), Scissors (show scissors again) beats paper.” Believe it or not, when people are not paying attention their subconscious mind will often accept your “suggestion”. A very similar technique is used by magicians to get someone to take a specific card from the deck.

7 – When All Else Fails Go With Paper
Haven’t a clue what to throw next? Then go with Paper. Why? Statistically, in competition play, it has been observed that scissors is thrown the least often. Specifically, it gets delivered 29.6% of the time, so it slightly under-indexes against the expected average of 33.33% by 3.73%. Obviously, knowing this only gives you a slight advantage, but in a situation where you just don’t know what to do, even a slight edge is better than none at all.

8 – The Rounder’s Ploy
This technique falls into more of a ‘cheating’ category, but if you have no honour and can live with yourself the next day, you can use it to get an edge. The way it works is when you suggest a game with someone, make no mention of the number of rounds you are going to play. Play the first match and if you win, take it is as a win. If you lose, without missing a beat start playing the ‘next’ round on the assumption that it was a best 2 out of 3. No doubt you will hear protests from your opponent but stay firm and remind them that ‘no one plays best of one for a kind of decision that you two are making’. No this devious technique won’t guarantee you the win, but it will give you a chance to battle back to even and start again.

So if two people read this and decide to play RPS, does either one of them then have an advantage? I think not.

If you are an RPS loser, you can always CHEAT:

Though this is very unsportsman-like, one might consider it a clever tactic. One of the first tricks learned by a Rock-Paper-Scissors novice is to hold back a throw of paper until the last possible moment to dupe an opponent into believing that one may actually be throwing a rock. Both paper and scissors have this ability; however, unless one is employing a “double-back” strategy, cloaking a paper throw is likely to draw an instinctive paper from one’s opponent. If the throw is accidentally revealed too late, that is, not revealed until the thrower’s arm breaks the plane where the thrower’s arm is perpendicular to the thrower’s torso (at a 90 degree angle), this is considered a foul. In such a case the referee will assign a throw of rock, even if this is not what the thrower intended. This is known as a “forced rock.”

A common variation on the opening ritual is to have both players hold their hands behind their backs and reveal their already formed throws after the count of three. The intention is to prevent any sort of timing based cheating.

Another way to cheat is to prime three times instead, if the opponent primed twice only, the other could see his opponent’s throw without revealing his own, claiming “I thought we are doing three primes”. This form of cheating usually does not get the cheater anywhere, as the round will be most likely replayed. In many cases, participants will bounce three times (while saying “rock, paper, scissors”) and then revealing the throw while saying something else (such as “shoot”). Note: ‘priming’ is the number of bounces one does before revealing the throw.

Source: mentalfloss.com

Jack Thompson is blaming the Virginia Tech shooting on video games

Despite the fact that he’s a known liar, infamous for threatening fellow attorneys and judges and is on the cusp of (one would hope) losing his license to practice law in Florida, Jack Thompson managed to weasel his way onto Fox News to spew his own particular brand of hate and lies.That’s right, Thompson is trying to link the worst shooting in U.S. history, the one that occurred earlier today at Virginia Tech, to video games.

What I love about this is that just about everything he says on live television is blatantly not true, like blaming video games on the Red Lake High School shooting.

It saddens me that filth like Jack can get on national television to gloat and revel in the deaths of so many and try to put it off as education.

I’m not one to really hate anyone, but this guy is really pushing it. He is a lot like Jesse Jackson in the fact that he has his nose in everything, and as soon as there is a big news story that the world is watching, the media wants to get his opinion. (Or he calls the media himself and they put him on the air.)

He didn’t wast a second after what is a massive tragedy in attributing it to video-gaming, this is nothing but political opportunism at it’s worst. The fact that Jack Thompson could claim himself some sort of expert on school shootings makes me feel ill.

On a semi related note, if this would have happened last week, I have a feeling that Don Imus would still have a job. The media would have had a bigger story to cover, and Imus could have stepped back in the shadows and his comments would forever be forgotten.