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Incredible technology

After beating the world champion, Google’s Alpha Go is ready for retirement

Alpha Go

Alpha Go, an artificial intelligence system developed by Google for the sole purpose of mastering the Go game, is stepping down from competitive matches after beating the world’s best player.

It’s latest “victim” is Ke Jie, Go’s top ranked player, who was beaten by Alpha Go three times in a row during the Go Competition hosted last week in China.

The AI, developed by London-based DeepMind, which was acquired by Google for around $500 million in 2014, also overcome a team of five top players during a week of matches. AlphaGo first drew headlines last year when it beat former Go world champion Lee Sedol, and the China event took things to the next level with matches against 19-year-old Jie, and doubles with and against other top Go pros.

Alpha Go

Ke Jie, the world’s toughest Go player, moments after losing to Alpha Go

Last March in Seoul, South Korea, AlphaGo became the first machine to beat a top player at the ancient game of Go when it defeated Korean grandmaster Lee Sedol—a feat that most researchers didn’t consider possible just a few years before. In the year since, Hassabis and his team significantly improved the machine. Today, in Wuzhen, China, AlphaGo won its third game against Ke Jie, and much as in the other two, the contest held little drama, even as the machine’s peerless play sent the usual ripples across the worldwide Go community.

When DeepMind first unveiled AlphaGo, serious students of the game questioned whether it was skillful enough to challenge the world’s best players. When it topped Lee Sedol, many lamented that a machine had eclipsed the powers of humanity, somehow mimicking the intuition required to play this enormously complex game. But as the DeepMind team continued to improve this surprisingly powerful system, the top Go players couldn’t get enough of its unique and sometimes transcendent style of play. They have repeatedly called on DeepMind to release the countless games that AlphaGo has played behind closed doors, seeing the machine as a window into the future of the Go community.

Alpha Go

The AI uses advanced learning algorithms to predict and outsmart even the toughest human players

Go is revered as the planet’s most demanding strategy game, and that’s why it made for an ideal field to both develop AI technology and plot machines against humans. Beyond Google, Tencent is among other tech firms to have unleashed AIs on the game. While it whips up curiosity and attention, the game simple serves as a stepping stone for future plans which is why DeepMind says it is moving on.

However, some scientists and experts see Alpha Go’s evolution as a strane phenomena and warn that experimenting with AI and advance intelligence should be carried out with great caution and attention to detail, so that in the future such advance systems don’t get out of control.

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