Google’s AlphaGo wins three-game series against world champion

AlphaGo has won the second of three matches against the world’s best Go player, Ke Jie, making the AI the overall champion of the complex strategy game. Although Ke was forced to concede, Google DeepMind founder Demis Hassabis tweeted that the human player pushed the AI “right to the limit”.

Last year the world’s top Go player said he would never be beaten by a machine. Earlier this week, Ke called Google’s AlphaGo AI a “Go god”, after losing in a tense first match that is sure to be held as a watermark in the progress of artificial intelligence.

The 19-year-old Chinese world champion lost the first of three scheduled matches by only half a point – the closest margin possible in the game. Ke complimented the AI’s strategy for making “all the stones work across the board”, but said the game had ultimately been a “horrible experience”.

The victory follows last year’s defeat of Go grandmaster Lee Se-dol. Since then, AlphaGo has been updated, with the current version using ten times less computational power as its predecessor – just one PC connected to Google’s cloud server. This latest iteration has been, fittingly, dubbed “Master”.

The narrow victory might have given Ke some confidence but, according to the DeepMind team behind the AI, this was a likely outcome given AlphaGo’s programming. Apparently the AI had been set up to priorities winning chances, but could also be programmed to maximize the gap between its own score, and that of its poor human opponent. As the second match showed, AlphaGo is more than capable of repeating its victory.

This is also, technically, not the first time AlphaGo has beaten Ke. In January this year, a shadowy competitor beat Ke and other leading players online. It was later revealed that this mysterious Go player was DeepMind, giving AlphaGo a test run. I feel like it’s only fair that Ke sneaks into DeepMind’s offices to challenge an unaware cloud server.

You can watch the first match in its entirety below. The final match will Saturday happen on Saturday, although you’re unlikely to see it in China. The host country, which created Go in 500BC, censored the first match from broadcast.  

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