Stay on target
Not satisfied with AlphaGo steamrolling Go world champ Lee Sedol four games to one, Google will pit its artificial intelligence program against China’s top players and leading AI experts in a five-day festival next month.
Developed by Google’s DeepMind, the software in 2015 became the first computer Go program to beat a human professional. It made history again last year, when it pummeled Sedol.
But despite fears that AI may diminish the ancient Chinese game, artificial intelligence has actually made human players stronger and more creative, according to DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis.
“It’s humbling to see how pros and amateurs alike, who have pored over every detail of AlphaGo’s innovative gameplay, have actually learned new knowledge and strategies about perhaps the most studied and contemplated game in history,” he wrote in a blog post.
Invented in China more than 2,500 years ago, and played by more than 40 million people worldwide, Go requires players to place black or white stones on a board in an effort to capture the opponent’s pieces or surround empty spaces to build territories.
The deceivingly difficult game features more possible moves than there are atoms in the universe, eliminating traditional “brute force” AI methods that search for all conceivable sequences of moves.
“AlphaGo’s play makes us feel free, that no move is impossible,” Go pro Zhou Ruiyang said in a video (above). “Now everyone is trying to play in a style that hasn’t been tried before.”
New styles will be tested further at the “Future of Go Summit,” scheduled for May 23-27 in Wuzhen, China, where AlphaGo and top Chinese players are invited to “explore the mysteries of the game together.”
A variety of formats include “Pair Go” (where two human competitors are paired with AlphaGo) and “Team Go” (where AlphaGo takes on a team of five people). The event highlight, meanwhile, is a classic one-on-one match of three games between the AI and the world’s No. 1 player, Ke Jie (pictured below).
Go world champ Ke Jie (far right) with Google CEO Sundar Pichai (second from left) (DeepMind)
Visitors can also learn more about AlphaGo and machine learning methods—also used to reduce energy use and for medical research—in a Google forum on the “Future of AI.”
“We’re excited to see what insights this next round of games and discussion will bring, and the challenges this will help us solve together—both on and off the Go board,” Hassabis said.