×
December 6, 2017

Four hours is all it took for Google's DeepMind artificial intelligence program to learn everything there was to know about chess, The Telegraph reported Wednesday. DeepMind's AlphaZero program, which teaches itself from scratch, achieved "superhuman" knowledge of chess in less than the amount of time you'd spend, say, watching the extended version of The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.

Chess has long been used to test the ability of artificial intelligence because the game's rigid structure is ideal for programming a computer with rules, and then letting it run its own tests against those rules. AlphaZero started this experiment knowing only the basics of chess gameplay, but by playing thousands of games against itself, AlphaZero updated its neural network with information about the effectiveness of certain moves — over and over again, until it became the best chess player in the known universe.

"The games AlphaZero played ... are far beyond anything humans or chess computers have come up with," said David Kramaley, a chess education expert. In 1997, the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue beat world champion chess player Garry Kasparov by computing and evaluating positions that were programmed into the machine with the help of chess masters, but AlphaZero is different because it had to teach itself the positions to begin with.

DeepMind's founders hope AlphaZero can be used to solve pressing societal issues. In October, DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis said, "If [AlphaZero] can be applied to other structured problems, such as protein folding, reducing energy consumption, or searching for revolutionary new materials, the resulting breakthroughs have the potential to drive forward human understanding and positively impact all of our lives."

Read the entire report on AlphaZero's prowess in chess and other games here. Kelly O'Meara Morales

2:59p.m.

Jennifer Aniston brings all the pomp and circum-sass in the first trailer for her upcoming film, Dumplin'.

Netflix dropped the trailer for the comedy, written by Kristin Hahn and directed by Anne Fletcher, on Wednesday. Based on Julie Murphy's 2015 novel, Dumplin' follows Willowdean "Dumplin'" Dickson (Danielle Macdonald), a plus-size teen trying to step out from her beauty queen mother's shadow. In one attempt to find herself, Dumplin' signs up for a pageant in her small Texas hometown, which is being judged by her mom (Aniston).

With the help of her best friend Ellen (Odeya Rush), Dumplin' plunges into a world of very high heels, dance classes, lots of hairspray, and fabulous Dolly Parton drag queens.

Aniston and Macdonald are accompanied by Life of the Party's Luke Benward, Disney Channel's Dove Cameron, Lost's Harold Perrineau, Hairspray's Maddie Baillio, and Ginger Minj of RuPaul's Drag Race.

The trailer gives a sneak peek at the movie's soundtrack, which features several songs by Parton and Linda Perry, reports Entertainment Weekly. Sia also joined in, collaborating with Parton to record "Here I Am." Dumplin' will hit Netflix, and select theaters, on Dec. 7. Watch the full trailer below. Amari Pollard

2:43p.m.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will serve as House minority leader, the Republican Party's top position in the next Congress, fending off a long-shot challenge from Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).

McCarthy was elected to the position in the 116th Congress this afternoon with 159 votes to Jordan's 43, per NBC's Alex Moe. This news comes after Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) were both re-elected to their respective roles of Senate Minority Leader and Senate Majority Leader as expected, reports Vox.

Jordan, an ally of President Trump's, had announced last week that he intended to challenge McCarthy for the position of minority leader, saying that Americans elected Republicans to "come here and change this town" in 2016 but that "I don't think they see the same intensity from folks in Congress" as they do from Trump, per The Hill. Politico reports that Trump had waded into the fight and encouraged some sort of deal between McCarthy and Jordan. It's unclear what that deal might have been, although Politico reports there's speculation that Trump may push for Jordan to become the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee.

Meanwhile, Steve Scalise (R-La.) has also been re-elected as the party's whip. CNN's Chris Cillizza argues that the fact that Republicans have maintained the same leadership in the House after losing over 30 seats indicates that "everyone in Congressional GOP believes Trump is fully to blame" for the flip in power. Brendan Morrow

2:25p.m.

The "caravan" used to make a near-daily appearance in President Trump's vocabulary. But political discussion of the migrant group rolled away as quickly as it arrived, and the word "caravan" hasn't been seen on Trump's Twitter feed since Halloween, CBS News' Kathryn Watson points out.

The real caravan, though, has not exactly disappeared. It's still a group of about 3,600 Central American migrants headed through Mexico to claim asylum in the U.S., NPR reports. And it's in Guadalajara, still more than 1,000 miles from reaching the border, because it opted for a "safer, longer route" to cross just south of San Diego in Tijuana, Fox News reports. A small group of largely LGBT migrants arrived in Tijuana by bus Tuesday, splitting off amid discrimination from other caravan members, they tell The Washington Post.

While Trump may have forgotten about the caravan, perhaps because Election Day is over, the troops he directed to the border haven't. Thousands of troops spent Veterans Day waiting at the border for the caravan's arrival, and will likely be there through Thanksgiving, The New York Times reports. And seeing as they've mostly been tasked with work the National Guard already has under control, veterans say the Army will likely have a morale issue on its hands.

Trump, meanwhile, has moved on to other migrant-blocking, border-strengthening measures — with very limited mentions of the caravan he once considered of peak importance. Kathryn Krawczyk

1:37p.m.

Remember that anonymous op-ed in The New York Times that sent shock waves through Washington in September? Its author was never publicly identified, but Omarosa Manigault Newman claims the Trump administration solved the mystery behind closed doors.

Manigault Newman, a former White House communications aide, told MSNBC Wednesday that she has heard "from my sources" that the Trump administration identified the op-ed writer and has "quietly removed them from the administration." She also said, citing "rumors," that the White House has been relatively quiet about the whole situation because of "how high-level that person is supposed to have been."

The anonymous Times op-ed came from a senior Trump administration official, who claimed there was a "quiet resistance" among officials in the administration who are "working diligently from within to frustrate parts of [Trump's] agenda and his worst inclinations." After its publication, the White House reportedly began a frantic internal search to find out who wrote it, with the president at one point narrowing his list of suspects down to 12. But after a while, the op-ed buzz faded, and there was never any additional reporting about its author.

Manigault Newman had previously floated the idea that Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff, Nick Ayers, could have written the op-ed, although considering Ayers is still working in the White House and is, in fact, reportedly the leading candidate to replace Chief of Staff John Kelly, her latest update contradicts that theory. However, she maintains that the op-ed's language is similar to "something that would come out of Pence's shop." Watch her comments below. Brendan Morrow

12:28p.m.

Fox News is taking press room solidarity to a new level.

After President Trump's administration stripped Jim Acosta, CNN's chief White House correspondent, of his press pass last week, the network filed a lawsuit alleging a handful of Trump officials violated Acosta's First and Fifth Amendment rights. And in a Wednesday statement, Fox News President Jay Wallace revealed the network would file an amicus brief on CNN's behalf.

At a Nov. 7 press briefing the morning after Election Day, Acosta refused to give up his microphone after Trump blew off his questions about the migrant caravan. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later accused Acosta of "placing his hands on" an intern who tried to take the microphone, and tweeted a doctored video of the incident. Sanders didn't mention the allegation again on in a Wednesday statement.

Fox News was the first to announce it would file brief to support CNN's lawsuit on Wednesday, and a gaggle of press organizations quickly followed.

Fox News previously sided with CNN after reporter Kaitlan Collins was banned from a Rose Garden event in July. Fox News' Bret Baier also supported CNN after a February 2017 press room banning, comparing it to when CNN and The New York Times backed Fox News after former President Barack Obama's administration tried to block the network from a press event. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:59a.m.

Thousands of firefighters are continuing to battle northern California's Camp Fire, which has already claimed 48 lives, 130,000 acres, and 7,000 homes as of Tuesday night. But in the town of Paradise, efforts have shifted to recovering bodies from a charred landscape.

Coroners, cadaver dogs, and forensic specialists have arrived in the destroyed Butte County town, searching for remains they fear "will be burned beyond recognition and perhaps beyond identification," The New York Times reports. "As advanced as we are, we are literally down to buckets and shovels" to dig out bodies, a county sheriff's spokesman told the Times. Finding those remains is completely dependent upon dogs because, as one specialist put it, "How do you tell a bone from a rock at a certain point?"

Here's what the devastation looks like, in 5 photos. Kathryn Krawczyk

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

10:55a.m.

The Department of Justice on Wednesday released a memo defending President Trump's appointment of Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker as constitutional.

When Trump forced Jeff Sessions out of the administration last week and replaced him with Whitaker, it set off some debate over whether the decision was actually legal, with the key concern being that Whitaker has not been confirmed by the Senate. On the one hand, some have argued Whitaker's appointment violates the Appointments Clause of the Constitution, which says principal officers of the United States must be confirmed by the Senate. Others, however, have argued Whitaker's appointment is constitutional and that as long as he's only there on a temporary basis, he doesn't qualify as a "principal officer."

Now, the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel has weighed in, saying that while "presidents often choose acting principal officers from among Senate-confirmed officers ... the Constitution does not mandate that choice," reports Bloomberg. The memo also argues that Whitaker's appointment is consistent with the Vacancies Reform Act because he was serving in a senior position at the Department of Justice for over a year before Trump selected him, CNN reports. Whitaker was Sessions' chief of staff at the Justice Department up until last week.

CNN also reports that Trump sought out legal advice about appointing a senior DOJ official as acting attorney general before he fired Sessions, although it's unclear when that conversation took place. Whitaker's appointment is the first time since 1866 that an acting attorney general has been appointed without Senate confirmation, Bloomberg reports. Brendan Morrow

See More Speed Reads