The reliance on technology, including AI (artificial intelligence), by the online gambling industry is obvious to see. In fact, without the many advances of the last decade including the rise and rise of the smartphone and increasingly widespread wi-fi availability the industry may not have been in the very healthy state that it is today.
Alongside these, and probably fuelled by them too, there have been significant cultural changes which have both helped to normalize online gaming and introduce many new kinds of player into the arena, including younger people and women.
Therefore it is an industry with a voracious appetite for the new and innovative, always seeking something extra to provide much-needed novelty for its players. For example one of the most hyped phenomena of the last year or so has been the arrival of Virtual Reality into the mainstream and a number of online casinos have already started to incorporate this technology in their sites, if only at a beta-testing level at this point.
Two other areas that are proving to be of great interest to online casino developers at the moment are AI and Swarm technology.
For many years the former has been the preserve of science fiction and Hollywood movies with machines that can reason for themselves being pictured as some form of dystopian future in which the human race is gradually overcome by its own inventions. While we’d like to think this is a vision of pure fiction even experts as eminent as Professor Stephen Hawking has predicted that this could well be a possibility.
While we’re talking about AI as a new development it has been with us for some time. As long ago as 1996 a computer designed by IBM and called Deep Blue took on the world chess champion of the time, Gary Kasparov, and won. Given that a computer can be programmed to succeed in a game as complex and nuanced as chess it’s no surprise that a great deal of work was subsequently put into designing a similar machine to play poker.
The result has been Libratus, a poker playing machine designed by a team of experts who have spent the last 13 years perfecting it. In fact the challenge to create a poker-playing computer was far greater than one to play chess as in poker one is confronted with “imperfect” information, namely one cannot know what the other players’ hands contain. Therefore an element of intuition has to be built in, the very essence of the human thought process.
It seems to have worked. When Libratus played against 4 professionals over 16 days in January it emerged a clear winner.
Similarly, recent experiments of using “swarm” technology have recently been demonstrating remarkable results. This uses the combined power of a number of different algorithms to try to predict future events – an obvious benefit in online gambling. It successfully predicted the results of 2016 Kentucky Derby and the 2017 Super Bowl score with the former prediction earning its inventor, Louis Rosenberg, nearly $11,000 from a $20 bet.
So given these results both these technologies are bound to have a future in the online casino environment. But anyone thinking that it will all work in favor of the player may have to reconsider.
That’s because for every advance making it easier to win casinos are certain to have a counter move. Until, that is, the AI machine is developed that’s capable of outthinking its designers too.