This week, Google announced that its AlphaGo AI has beaten the European champion of the ancient board game Go.
"The game of Go originated in China more than 2,500 years ago. Confucius wrote about the game, and it is considered one of the four essential arts required of any true Chinese scholar," explained Google DeepMind's Demis Hassabis in a blog post on Wednesday. "Played by more than 40 million people worldwide, the rules of the game are simple: Players take turns to place black or white stones on a board, trying to capture the opponent's stones or surround empty space to make points of territory. However, as simple as the rules are, Go is a game of profound complexity." There are a huge amount of possible positions. This complexity has made Go a nearly impossible game for computers to play and has made it "an irresistible challenge to artificial intelligence (AI) researchers."
Google's AlphaGo AI combined an advanced tree search with deep neural networks to take on programs and humans in the ancient Chinese game. AlphaGo first took on "the other top programs at the forefront of computer Go," winning all but one of its 500 games. After demolishing its computer-based competition, AlphaGo had the chance to play three-time European Go champion Fan Hui last October. AlphaGo won all 5 games against Hui, more details of which were published in a paper in Nature this week. In March, AlphaGo will take on the world's top Go player, South Korea's Lee Sedol, in a five-game challenge match in Seoul.
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