To celebrate the opening of a Shanghai factory, German robotics company Kuka pitted its one-armed ping-pong-playing robot against German table tennis champ Timo Boll in an epic battle of man-versus-machine. Man ultimately prevails, but the showdown highlights advances in developing human-like qualities in machines.
Early in the match, the robot's incredible speed and agility are able to overpower Boll's world-class skill. But the human's cunning and ability to learn the weaknesses in the robot's game enable him to complete an 11-point comeback to take the victory.
A nice win for mankind, but not so fast: Breakthroughs in machine learning, away from the ping-pong table, have developed artificial intelligence to the point where it can learn in real time, just like Boll did. In fact, in many cases, machines can learn faster, and process much more information than a human ever could.
Therefore, it's safe to say that if this robot was built with the brains to match its physical capabilities, the match might well have ended a bit differently for Boll. See the awesome video here>