Rock-paper-scissors is a game that tends to get very frustrating when you’e losing all the time. But if you think that losing to your friends is infuriating, just imagine losing to a machine. You know, it’s bad enough that robots are ‘stealing’ a lot of our jobs, but now they’re also adding insult to injury by beating us at our own games. Not only that, but the robot in question was programmed to have a 100% winrate, which makes it literally impossible to beat by a human. This rock-paper-scissors champ goes by the name of Janken robot and was developed by the Ishikawa Watanabe Laboratory in Japan.
As for how the robot is able to beat its human opponent each an every time, the answer is really simple and doesn’t involve artificial precognition. Specifically, the Janken robot cheats. I know, pretty disappointing, but it’s main purpose is actually not that of beating people at rock-paper-scissors believe it or not. Rather, the robot uses visual feedback to respond to the actions of a human hand and it does so in a matter of miliseconds. This technology opens the door to quite a few potential applications that involve precise cooperation between a human and a robot. Even more interesting is that the Janken robot can be used remotely as the sensors responsible for recording the signals of a human don’t necessarily have to be in the immediate vicinity of the machine.
The Janken robot may have to cheat in order to beat you at rock-paper-scissors because it obviously can’t anticipate your moves, but because it is able to respond so fast to human movements it can potentially be used to help out in a wide variety of fields. Ishikawa Watanabe Laboratory says that the Janken robot can also be programmed to have a delayed response to human actions if needed, which might make it even more useful depending on the situation.