Google AI programme beats top-ranked Go player

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But the summit will also serve as a fascinating focal point for the impact of AI; an abstract board game created thousands of years ago in China is now right at the center of what could be one of the most profound technological developments of our time.

The three-round games between Ke and AlphaGo is part of the five-day Future of Go Summit.

Spectators watch a video screen as Go player Ke Jie plays a match against Google's artificial intelligence program, AlphaGo, during the Future of Go Summit in Wuzhen in eastern China's Zhejiang Province, Tuesday, May 23, 2017. "#AlphaGo won by just half a point, the closest margin possible". While the grander drama plays out, a $1.5 million prize is also at stake.

During the remaining days of the conference, AlphaGo and Ke Jie are scheduled for a second round on Thursday and a final round on Saturday.

In one slightly insulting variation, five human players will team up to try and beat a single AlphaGo AI.

AlphaGo made history when it beat a top South Korean professional player a year ago. While its rules are simple - players battle for territory by placing white or black stones on a 19-by-19 grid of squares - it's regarded as far more complex than chess, by an order of magnitude of 10 followed by 99 zeros. But rather than cowering in fear or kneeling before the dominance of AlphaGo, Deep Blue, Watson, and all of the other computers intent on literally beating us at our own games, it's time for us to start fighting back.

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South Korean Go master Lee Se-dol said Tuesday that AlphaGo defeated Chinese Go player Ke Jie just as he'd expected. After last year's win, DeepMind was impressed with AlphaGo's creative moves which "were so surprising they overturned hundreds of years of received wisdom" in the game.

Ke, who has been the top-ranked player in the 3,000-year-old game for more than two years and has previously described himself as a "pretentious", boldly said last year "Bring it on!" and vowed never to lose to a machine.

Of course, Google has a long way to go before it can propagate what AlphaGo can do to something that has much more practical application and outcome of people's day-to-day lives. During last year's game, DeepMind's founder and CEO Demis Hassabis explained that Go is played on a large board with an exponentially larger number of permutations.

Most eyes will be on the Ke Jie showdown, however, and with good reason.

"I am still excited to see the games!" says Lee Ha-jin, who doesn't particularly seem to mind if AlphaGo prevails. The game can't be found on numerous most-watched streaming services in China, such as Tencent Video and Sina.com.

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