Google AI Will Attempt to Beat World’s Best Player of Ancient Chinese Board Game ‘Go’

Go is an ancient Chinese board game invented over 2,500 years ago. An artificial-intelligence challenge set the stage for researchers at Google and Facebook to try to have a computer beat the game. Computers have already mastered backgammon, chess and Atari’s breakout. As it turns out, Google developed the first AI software that learned to play Go and beat a few human players. Google DeepMind, the London research group behind the project, is now gearing the software up for competition in Seoul against the world’s best Go player in March.


It was back in 1996 when IBM’s Deep Blue computer defeated the world chess champion. Yet, Go is a bit more complex. It is made up of a 19-by-19 square board where players try to capture empty areas and surround an opponent’s pieces. Go has about 200 possible choices per move compared to 20 with chess.


Demis Hassabis, co-founder of Google DeepMind said “There’s still a lot of uncertainty over this match, whether we win. IBMdemonstrated the phenomenal processing power available to modern computers. DeepMind shouldhighlight how these phenomenally powerful machines are beginning to think in a more human way.” It’s been years since computer scientists have been trying to have AI beat Go. In addition, Facebook is working on a similar project using the same types of neural-network and search technology as Google.


On Tuesday, Facebook said the software has also beaten humans. Although Google’s version, called AlphaGo, obtained higher scores than Facebook’s. AlphaGo learned to play at an expert level by observing competition and simulating millions of its own games against itself. In October, Google put AlphaGo against the best player in Europe, Fan Hui. AlphaGo go won all five games.


In March, Google will go against Lee Sedol, the world’s top player over the past decade. The winner receives $1 million. What do you think of AlphaGo? Would you play it if it were available online? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

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