Computer beats Chinese champion in ancient board game of go

As we reported last month, the Future of Go Summit is a collaboration between Google, the China Go Association, and the Chinese government created to explore aspects of Go as played by humans and AI and to test the limits of both. Sedol and most observers noticed that AlphaGo was smart, but still exhibiting traits more characteristics of human players.

Today's game was one of three happening between AlphaGo and Ke Jie this week at the Google-hosted Future of Go Summit in Wuzhen, China.

"Interesting that Ke Jie has made a decision to play an very early 3-3 point as he knows #AlphaGo likes to play there", DeepMind founder Demis Hassabis tweeted near the beginning of the game.

The odds are not good for Ke Jie: back in January AlphaGo secretly played 60 online matches against some of the world's best players, including Ke Jie, and didn't lose a single one.

AlphaGo was initially taught to play through sheer experience learned by a large volume of games. In Pair Go two human players, Gu Li and Lian Xiao will each have Alpho Go as a teammate as they play each other.

For some, rapid advances in AI conjure sci-fi images of a "Terminator" future in which machines "wake up" and enslave humanity.

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It follows its historic win against Lee Se-dol a year ago, described by experts as a breakthrough moment for AI.

Go players take turns putting white or black stones on a rectangular grid with 361 intersections, trying to capture territory and each other's pieces by surrounding them.

"For the first time, AlphaGo was quite human-like", Ke said.

The algorithm, called AlphaGo, is the brainchild of DeepMind, the artificial intelligence research arm of Google parent company Alphabet. Last time, no-one really knew what to predict, but AlphaGo's strong showing against Lee Se-dol makes it the clear favorite to take the three-game match - it's likely to be even stronger with another year or so of machine learning under its artificial belt. What's particularly interesting was AlphaGo's playstyle - it scraped the win, but in such a way that suggested its margin of victory was never a concern. "But now I feel its understanding of go and the judgment of the game is beyond our ability". He noted that the number of possible board states in Go is "more than the number of atoms in the universe".

"It was a such close game, an exciting game and showed how much work Ke Jie put into preparing for the match", said Mr Hassabis in a post-match press conference.

Players have said AlphaGo enjoys some advantages because it doesn't get exhausted or emotionally rattled, two critical aspects of the mentally intense game.

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