Alphabet machine beats world's top Go player in a victory for AI

Joanna Estrada
June 3, 2017

Google's Go-playing AI has won its second game against the world's best player of the ancient Asian board game, Chinese 19-year-old Ke Jie, taking the three-game match in the process.

Beloved by mathematicians due to its complexity, Go is a two player game that involves placing black and white counters on a grid to seal off territories.

China has the world's biggest population of internet users, with some 730 million people online by the end of past year, according to government data.

Google's AlphaGo artificial intelligence system has once again defeated the world's number one-ranked Go player, Chinese Go grandmaster Ke Jie.

The 34-year-old lost 4-1 to AlphaGo in a five-round Go tournament last March in Seoul, but still remains the first and only Go player to beat Google's human-like algorithm. The Chinese government increased funding for AI research after AlphaGo defeated South Korean player Lee Sedol a year ago, according to the New York Times, which reports that it marked "a sort of Sputnik moment for" China. Now the second game has taken place - and once again, AlphaGo has emerged the victor.

In case you missed it, Google has become rather obsessed with making a beast that can beat people at Go, and the good news for it is that it is finally in a position to claim that its machine is the best in the world.

The teenager champion was surprised with AlphaGo's game style and was reverent of the AI system's Go abilities.

Internet users outside China could watch the games live but Chinese censors blocked most mainland web users from seeing the Google website carrying the feed. Like AlphaGo, Translate also uses DeepMind's artificial intelligence software.

AlphaGo secured the victory after winning the second game in a three-part match.

Perhaps it's time for AlphaGo to go head-to-head against itself. While initially the Chinese authorities did comply with the requests and agree to stream the match, at the final moment most broadcasters backed out and there was no screening done, sending Google's efforts in vain. After all, Ke had defeated Lee several times himself. Google owns DeepMind, which means that any reports of AlphaGo's success or failure link back to the Western technology giant with a complicated history of doing business in China.

Ke said the computer made unexpected moves after playing more methodically on Tuesday.

But Ke, the holder of multiple world titles, wasn't ready to give up before games on Thursday and Saturday.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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