An artificial intelligence program developed by researchers at Google can beat a human at the board game GO, which some consider to be the most complicated board game in existence. And this AI program — dubbed AlphaGo — didn’t defeat any ol’ human, but the European Go champion Fan Hui in a tournament last October by five games to nil. The findings, published today in the journal Nature, represent a major coup for machine learning algorithms.
“In a nutshell, by publishing this work as peer-reviewed research, we at Nature want to stimulate the debate about transparency in artificial intelligence,” senior editor Tanguy Chouard said at a press briefing yesterday. “And this paper seems like the best occasion for this, as it goes- should I say, right at the heart of the mystery of what intelligence is.”
Known as wéiqí in Chinese and baduk in Korean, GO originated in China over 2,500 years ago. The board consist of a 19 by 19 grid of intersecting lines. Two players take turns placing black and white marbles on individual intersection points. Once place, the stones can’t be moved, but they can be captured by completely surrounding an opponent’s marble. The ultimate objective is control more than 50 percent of the board, but since the board is so intricate, there are numerous possibilities for moves.
“So Go is probably the most complex game ever devised by man. It has 10^170 (that's 10 followed by 170 zeros) possible board configurations, which is more than the numbers of atoms in the universe,” said study author and AlphaGo co-developer Demis Hassabis of Google DeepMind.