Google AI beats Chinese master in ancient game of Go

World champion Go player takes on Google's AlphaGo
The final battle between man and machine in the board game Go is here

24 May, 2017

After the first round of a three part match between the DeepMind-powered AI and Ke Jie, the champion human player, the AI was able to defeat its human rival despite Ke Jie employing tricks he'd learnt from watching the AI play.

"Ke Jie is using the ideas AlphaGo used in the master series of online games in January against AlphaGo", Hassabis tweeted.

DeepMind's success astounded experts, who thought it would take as much as a decade before AI could beat top-ranked professional players of the game.

After the game, the DeepMind team explained that AlphaGo was programmed with a goal to win, but other versions of the AI could be made with different goals in mind, including "maximising the gap" - an aim of trouncing its opponent with a high-score win.

The win over Lee was hailed as a technology landmark, fuelling visions of a courageous new world of AI that cannot only drive cars and operate "smart homes", but potentially help mankind figure out some of the most complex scientific, technical, and medical problems.

I has already been playing games to improve its technique, winning 60 in a row, but now it's facing the new, top challenger at a festival in China where the new insight into the 3,000-year-old game is being celebrated. Instead, it's moves which will most likely lead to victory.

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Go involves two players alternately laying black and white stones on a grid, seeking to seal off the most territory.

In the first of three planned games in the eastern water town of Wuzhen, the AlphaGo program held off China's world number one Ke Jie in front of Chinese officials and Google parent Alphabet's chief executive Eric Schmidt.

"I feel like his game is more and more like the "Go god".

"For the first time, AlphaGo was quite human-like", Ke said. And both stipulation matches will demonstrate not only a wider range of AlphaGo's capabilities than before, but how the arrival of AI has changed the way that humans play Go. It may not prove that a human can outsmart or outplay the AI, but nobody's going to care who was the better player when Judgment Day comes and the Terminators take over. "There are 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 possible positions - that's more than the number of atoms in the universe, and more than a googol times larger than chess". The program played numerous world's top players under the pseudonym "Master" in online matches earlier this year, according to the magazine, and its unorthodox playing style affected Ke's.

More information on The Future of Go Summit is available on its website, along with streaming video.

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