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This weekend, the New York Times unveiled a new science feature: a virtual robot to play rock-paper-scissors with. And the Wire (well, maybe some of us more than others) is having trouble beating it in "Veteran" mode. The game, as designed by the Times developers, is played as you would in real-life, except in Veteran mode the A.I. robot "pits over 200,000 rounds of previous experience against you" and tries to guess correctly which move you'll make. It's pretty good at it. But here's what the problem might be: those playing are thinking too much.

This isn't just our idea. CNET's Edward Moyer also appears to have spent far too long combating the "frustratingly smug android rival" and has hit upon the strategy that we eventually settled on: just press the buttons randomly, and you may win. In other words, instead of trying to outstrategize the robot who already knows far more than you ever will about prognosticating rock-paper-scissors moves, just leave it up to complete chance. It can't out-logic or out-research you that way.

It's more than ironic that a strategy for competing with artificial intelligence (which thanks to IBM's Watson was the unofficial theme of February), would boil down to being as unhuman as possible. Try your luck strategizing with the Terminator arm, and see who tires first.


This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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