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24 May 2017, 05:32 | Virginia Benson
Google's AlphaGo now on the Go
DeepMind's AlphaGo, the AI-powered software which a year ago made history after beating a champion player of the chess-like game Go, has returned to face a new foe - the world's number one player Ke Jie. "Huge respect to Ke Jie for playing such a great game and pushing AlphaGo to its limits".
Competing in the contest is the 2.0 version of AlphaGo, which has adopted a new algorithm model different from the AlphaGo 1.0 that has achieved a feat of 60 wins and 0 losses, defeating all challengers including Ke Jie.
Go is one of the oldest and most complex games in the world, and while many human players can spend decades mastering the game, AlphaGo seems to have done it in just a few short years.
The second exhibition match, Team Go, is more straightforward: five Chinese pro players will basically gang up on AlphaGo, working together in an attempt to take the AI down.
Ke had closely studied AlphaGo's strategy and tried to use some of the AI's unconventional tactics against it during his match, opening the game with a couple of moves that are seldom used by human players.
This is the latest showdown between elite human Go players and AlphaGo, which defeated South Korean Go master Lee Se-dol 4-1 at a match in March 2016.
Go, an ancient Chinese board game, is favored by AI researchers because of the large number of outcomes compared to other games such as western chess. It also sets out to look at how machine learning may be able to solve problems using methods that human experts may not have considered.
Although AlphaGo and Lee Sedol played five Go matches against each other, there will be only three matches between the AI and Ke Jie this time around.
Ke Jie will play two more matches against AlphaGo this week, one on Thursday and another on Saturday, and if he's really serious about taking a stand for our species, he's going to have to do everything he can to beat this machine in the way that only a human can.
AlphaGo has improved markedly since it defeated South Korea's top competitor previous year and is a "completely different player", Ke told reporters.
There are more possible Go moves than atoms in the universe, according toGoogle, which would have made it impossible for the AI to "play ahead" all the moves until it found the winning ones. Presumably other Go-playing AIs from China will be at the summit as well, not just AlphaGo, but details are slim right now.
Although Reuters reports that Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google parent Alphabet, watched the match in person in China, The Times notes that "there was no obvious live video of the event" available to viewers on the Chinese mainland.
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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