Episode 138: Counterfactual Regret Minimization

This episode contains: We plan just how hard we’re going to nerd out this weekend when we hangout together! Specifically, we’re going to play Star Wars: Armada, a Fantasy Flight Game similar to the X-Wing Miniatures game. It’s complex but luckily there are YouTube tutorials, some good, some bad.

Walking on Sunshine, Whoa-oh-oh: Steven tells us about new biomimetic technology that takes advantage of the piezoelectric effect. In this case, scientists are using the movement of tree leaves to generate electricity. A car lighter is a common example of a devise that takes advantage of the piezoelectric effect. Devon then tells us a really dumb story about what he did once with a car lighter. We also try to remember exactly what the scientific method is.


Robot Overlords: The AI, Libratus, has beaten one of the best poker players at no-limit Texas Hold ‘em. We discuss why poker presents unique problems for IA and the three specific elements of this AI that allowed it to play so well. Part of the system is finding the right balance of randomness and not allowing patterns to emerge. However, so far this only works with one-on-one play, not group play.


Star Wars RPG: Steven has become the GM of a Star Wars RPG that he has forced his wife to play. This leads to a brief discussion of some of the Legends books and if our perception of them is colored by how young we were when we read them.

Travelers: Devon has finished the season and Steven is 15 minutes into the last episode. MINOR SPOILERS. We recap the premise of the show, some of the early plot points and things that we found surprising. We discuss changes to the timeline, factions, and interesting character developments. We then have some MAJOR SPOILERS about the fate of one of the main characters. Also, did you know Travelers was made by the same guy that created Stargate SG1? Now you do.

The Three-Body Problem: Devon finished Ancillary Justice and found it so-so. Now he’s reading the Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy, by Liu Cixin, which he’s loving. This first book is The Three-Body Problem, which won the Hugo Award and was nominated for the Nebula Award. The book starts during China’s Cultural Revolution and advances to our near future. During the 1960s China makes contact with a hostile alien species that is on it’s way to conquer Earth. The second book, The Dark Forest, deals with humanities reaction to knowing they will be invaded in 400 years. Lots of awesome sci-fi ideas, good hard sci-fi descriptions of tech and physics concepts, and just overall awesomeness.


Next Week: Battle reports! (and Steven might finally be done with the third book of The Expanse.)