This week, humanity's last line of Go defence against machine learning sat down to see whether puny humans could hold their own.
Surprise: we can't.
Ke Jie, the 19-year-old professional who currently holds the title as the best Go player on the planet, kicked off his three-match exhibition against Google's AlphaGO AI earlier this week. And the signs weren't good: earlier in the year AlphaGo, under the online moniker "Master", flogged Ke Jie in some speed Go matches and everyone else as well.
Right now, there's a player lurking in the depths of the online Go scene that is laying waste to some of the best players in the world. It's called Master, and nobody knows who it is.
In an update posted on Twitter earlier this morning, Google has admitted that the mystery account "Master", as well as a second account "Magister", was their world-beating AlphaGo bot all along.
In an indication of just how much a mark AlphaGo has impacted the world of professional Go, Ke tried deploying some of the moves AlphaGo showed off during its online rampage in January. It's certainly a far cry from the big game Ke was talking last year, where he believed Lee Sedol would wallop AlphaGo 5-0.
AlphaGo's victory over Ke, however, was a fairly tight-knit affair. The two were evenly matched in the opening exchange, until AlphaGo's (playing as white) machine learning opted to take Ke's (black) corner in the 42nd move. And Demis Hassabis, a co-founder of AlphaGo's creator Deepmind, told reporters that AlphaGo didn't really have a statistical lead until after the 50th move.
But once it took hold, humanity was buggered. AlphaGo slowly extended its advantage until Ke opted to resign, just over four hours after the match began. Another Deepmind employee added during the post-match press conference that AlphaGo was configured primarily to win, rather than maximise the size of its victory, and it played moves to minimise any risk of a comeback.
You can go through the match below via the recorded livestream, or move by move here.
Ke told reporters afterwards that AlphaGo was "like a god of a Go player", compared to last year when the AI was "still quite humanlike". To make matters even more depressing, Stephanie Yin, a 1-dan professional Go player, added that Google's AI played moves that professionals couldn't anticipate. "Some of the moves that AlphaGo played are not based off our human studies. Those moves completely overthrow the basic knowledge of Go."
Ke will have two more chances later this week to restore humanity's reputation against machine learning later this week. The second match will kick off around 12.30 PM on Thursday AEST, with the third and final match kicking off the same time on Saturday.