But for an artificial intelligence powered by a formidable, nearly alien mindset, the trivial diversion can be mastered in a few spare hours.
Google's AlphaZero program, after teaching itself chess in a matter of hours, beat the world's greatest computerized chess player. After eight-hours of self-play, it amassed a record of 60 wins and 40 losses against the digital old-timer.
In a paper released this week, the company revealed that AlphaZero, like its predecessor, has mastered the board game Go to a level beyond the skill of human players.
"It will no doubt revolutionise the game, but think about how this could be applied outside chess. This algorithm could run cities, continents, universes".
DeepMind has been refining this AI for years, in the process besting a series of human champions who fell like dominoes before the indomitable, "Godlike" neural network. Researchers also found that the learning algorithm was able to beat a prior version of itself. The new AI's programming did not include data for tactics or strategy specific to these games; rather, it was provided with some general rules and instructions for the game, no different than what a human might be provided their first time attempting chess or Go.
That effort was meant to assist the fledgling AI in learning strategy, but it seems it may have actually been a handicap, since AlphaGo Zero's fully self-reliant learning proved devastatingly more effective in one-on-one competition.
"What we're seeing here is a model free from human bias and presuppositions".
But things are moving so fast in this field that already the October accomplishment may have been outmoded. That said, Demis Hassabis, CEO of DeepMind, has clarified that while mastering these games is an achievement, they differ significantly from the sorts of scientific problems they one day hope to use AlphaZero to solve. In a mere four hours, AlphaZero optimized its play to the point the program began outperforming Stockfish, according to the paper.
Details of the most recent tests were published on Wednesday (6 December) by New York's Cornell University, but findings are still to be peer-reviewed.
Men in Hungary play chess at a bath house. While Elon Musk's fear-mongering over the potential threat of rampant AI or Facebook's efforts to employ artificial intelligence to moderate content might be more attention-grabbing, Google recently had their own AI victory.