Can You Beat A Computer At Rock Paper Scissors?

Rock Paper Scissors

It looks like the New York Times has created a game that uses artificial intelligence to outsmart you. It uses a simple game called Rock, Paper, Scissors which is pretty much known by everyone on the planet by now.

The computer tries to mimic human reasoning by building on simple rules and statistical averages. So based on the rules of the game and your previous moves, the computer tries to make predictions on your next move.

The game has 2 modes, the first being Novice where the computer learns the game from scratch, and veteran where the computer has experience of over 200,000 rounds of previous experience.

Rock paper scissors lossOn novice mode I was able to fool the computer pretty easily, but on veteran I got my ass kicked. Even in the beginning the game started off with Ties then quickly moved to me losing very quickly.

There is a button that will show you what the computer is thinking and its thought process. The computer takes a look at your previous patterns and looks for changes in the pattern. It also looks for times when the pattern changed and also compare your choices with his choices against the play history of over 200,000 rounds. The NYT does leave a note that the game cannot be completely random or the game could always result in a tie:

Note: A truly random game of rock-paper-scissors would result in a statistical tie with each player winning, tying and losing one-third of the time. However, people are not truly random and thus can be studied and analyzed. While this computer won’t win all rounds, over time it can exploit a person’s tendencies and patterns to gain an advantage over its opponent.


Go ahead and give the game a try let me know how you did against the veteran computer, I’d love to know.

Learn more the author of this post:

I was a Computer and Information Technology student at Purdue University. I have always wanted my own website and have been fascinated with technology my entire life. So here I am, what's next?