Google’s computer AlphaGo has proven its superiority over the human race in the ancient Chinese game of Go. The artificial intelligence won the five game series 4 – 1; stunning the Go playing community in the process.
It wasn’t quite just that top class player Lee Sedol lost so comprehensively to the computer, but also due to AlphaGo actually inventing new strategies that have never been seen before in the game’s 2500 year history. This was particularly notable in Game 2, where pundits proclaimed the brilliance of the computer’s mid-game strategy; going as far as to say that there will be players copying the moves in future competitions.
Go was long considered to be beyond the capability of computers to grasp. Unlike chess, there are between 150-200 possible moves each turn – chess only has around 20. Experts had originally expected that computers would need around eight hours to make a single move each turn, and not the decisive strategies displayed by AlphaGo. For contrast, the Google Deepmind Challenge was played under standard Go tournament rules where each player had two hours to finish the game.
Lee, who only managed to take single match, was upbeat about his experience during the challenge. He said, “I have questioned at some points in my life whether I truly enjoy the game of Go, but I admit that I enjoyed all five games against AlphaGo. After my experience with AlphaGo, I have come to question the classical beliefs a little bit, so I have more study[sic] to do.”
Naturally, the AlphaGo team was ecstatic about the win. The final match played was closely contested, with Lee taking the lead over his cybernetic opponent several times. Despite this, the game was forced into overtime twice and AlphaGo winning after 280 moves.
There is no word on what comes next for AlphaGo, but if Google is anything to go by the technology could be appearing all over the place soon enough. Demis Hassabis, Co-Founder and CEO of DeepMind, said that he hopes “that in the future we can apply these techniques to other challenges — from instant translation to smartphone assistants to advances in health care.”