TD Gammon—the most amazing computer you've never heard of.
The only way to improve is to focus on what you're doing wrong. This simple concept turned an unassuming computer program into the most dominant backgammon player in history. The computer was called TD Gammon, and it changed the way we think about the world.
Gerald Tesauro created TD Gammon in 1992 to test his theories on artificial intelligence. The goal was to make TD Gammon the best backgammon player in the world. In the beginning, TD Gammon picked each move randomly. It wasn't programmed with good moves, or bad moves.
Unlike Deep Blue, the famous chess playing computer who predicted millions of moves in advance, it didn't rely on the brute force of predictive logic, it simply measured its rate of failure. In fact, TD Gammon could only search 3 moves in advance during it's 15 second turn. TD Gammon could only improve by practicing its craft. Each move it made was recorded and the outcome logged. If it lost a game, it focused on identifying the moves that caused it to lose. TD Gammon analyzed only its short comings, the errors that it made, and how to resolve them.
Over time, TD Gammon improved to an astounding degree. Within a few years it was the world's best backgammon player. Kit Woolsley, a previous backgammon champion, said "There is no question in my mind that its positional judgment is far better than mine."
TD Gammon could care less about success. It had no ego. It didn't care if it made a brilliant move, or how many games it actually won. It only cared about the errors it made. It was programmed to do nothing, but continually improve. And that single-minded focus allowed it to dominate its field.