Image: Jack Lee
After flogging one of the world’s best Go players over the last decade, and then massacring the current world champion to the point where he kept saying “it’s too strong”, Google’s AlphaGo needs new frontiers to conquer. So what do you do when one of the world’s best players of one of humanity’s oldest and most complex strategy games isn’t difficult enough? You play five at once, of course.
It’s been a few months since AlphaGo was in the headlines. The last time around, AlphaGo had started playing matches online. That was all well and good, except the fact that the meta-destroying, board game learning AI annihilated global competition so thoroughly that it won 51 games straight before someone had the good sense to glitch it out of a win.
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There isn’t much left for Google and AlphaGo to conquer in the world of Go. Lee Sedol didn’t offer much of a challenge last year, and according to European professional Ali Jabarin, the current world champion Ki Jie doesn’t look like a favourite to win:
Still, Ke Jie is going to try his luck anyway. Google has setup a five day exhibition in China next month where AlphaGo and Ke Jie will square off in a traditional match of three games to see whether the world champion can fare any better. (Lee Sedol had a five game match against AlphaGo, for reference.)
But that’s not enough of a challenge. So to help fill out the schedule for the five game exhibition in China’s Wuzhen, AlphaGo is playing “TeamGo”. I’ll let Deepmind explain:
A game between AlphaGo and a five-player team consisting of China’s top pro players, working together to test AlphaGo’s creativity and adaptability to their combined style.
Yup, you read that right. There was a point a couple of years ago when people were questioning whether AI would be able to beat the world’s best players at all. Now, just to make things interesting and to even the scales, AlphaGo will be playing five of China’s best Go players as a pack. There’s also a separate exhibition match where two Chinese pros will face off with an AlphaGo partner each, which seems a little like mastering Microsoft Word only to be asked to give a lecture with Clippy.
In any case, it’ll be fun to see how the Go Pro team fares. I’m just as curious to see whether they’ll be able to agree on the same moves when things get tight, because let’s face it: AlphaGo could simulate drinking and it’d still be the odds-on favourite here. It’s only a matter of time before Google’s Deepmind works out how it can start spanking StarCraft pros. Until then, let’s enjoy the last moments of humanity’s board game superiority while we can.