Google's AI Faces Off Against The World Go Champion Today

Google's AI program AlphaGo will be wearing its "Deep Blue" hat this week as it attempts to beat the world champion of the board game Go in a series of five matches. Here's how to watch the showdown live.

Go image from Shutterstock

Computers have already shown they can beat the world's best chess players (albeit with mixed and contentious results). Now, the boffins behind "man versus machine" contests are turning their attention to the ancient board game of Go.

This week, Google’s DeepMind-powered AlphaGo AI program will go head to head against the world’s top Go player Lee Se-dol who hasn't been beaten in over a decade. The five-match tournament — which is taking place in Seoul, South Korea — will be streamed live around the world via YouTube.

Go, which originated in China over 2,500 years ago, involves each player attempting to fill a 19x19 square grid with coloured stones. Whoever covers a larger total area of the board wins the match.

It's also properly hardcore — I present to you the "Blood-Vomiting" match from 19th Century Japan in which Go prodigy Intetsu Akaboshi keeled over and died after playing for four days straight. The UFC ain't got nothin' on this shit.

The game represents a challenge for AI programs, as it mixes simple rules and strategic complexity in a way that makes mathematical computations difficult. According to Google’s blog, there are more possible moves in Go than there are atoms in the universe.

Nevertheless, AlphaGo is the odds-on favourite to win: it was trained on 30 million moves from games played by the best players on the KGS Go game server. It has also played thousands of games against itself, improving incrementally each time via reinforcement learning.

The program boasts a deep neural 12-layer network comprising a "policy network" that selects the next move and a "value network" that predicts the winner of the game. As part of its training, it chooses moves at random and then simulates the game to the very end to find a winning strategy.

AlphaGo has already trounced the human European Go champion five games to none. It also beat other AI programs in all but one of 500 games. If it bests Lee Se-dol as expected, it will officially be the best Go playing thing in the world.

The first match will take place today from 3pm AEDT. The rest of the matches will occur on March 10, 12, 13 and 15. To watch the match live, head to the official YouTube page or watch the embedded video below:

This story originally appeared on Lifehacker Australia


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