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23 May, 2017 14:53

End game for humans? Google AI overcomes top player of ancient Chinese board game Go

End game for humans? Google AI overcomes top player of ancient Chinese board game Go

The ancient Chinese game ‘Go’ was said to be so complex that it would take artificial intelligence a decade to figure it out. Now, a computer has beaten the world’s top player just three years after it was set the task.

Google’s AlphaGo defeated 19-year-old prodigy Ke Jie in the first of three games during the Future Go Summit in Wuzhen, China, Tuesday. The machine won by only a half-point, the closest margin possible in the game. However, it is reported that the AI was in control throughout.

Speaking to reporters after the game, Ke said: “For the first time, AlphaGo was quite human-like. In the past it had some weaknesses. But now I feel its understanding of Go and the judgment of the game is beyond our ability.”

AlphaGo was created by London-based company DeepMind, a subsidiary of parent company Google. Founder Demis Hassabis hailed the AI’s Chinese opponent after the match: “Ke Jie fought bravely and some wonderful moves were played.”

READ MORE: Human v. AI: Go! Program beats world super champion at ancient Chinese game 3-0

Following the iconic defeat of then-reigning chess world champion Gary Kasparov by Deep Blue in 1997, AI has relentlessly surpassed human intelligence as the dominant force in most board games. Due of its immense complexity, Go, a 2,500-year-old game, had long held out as one that could not be cracked by machines.

AlphaGo shot to prominence in 2015 by beating European Go champion Fan Hui. It then defeated Korean Go legend Lee Se-dol in four of five games last year. Now, after beating Jie, widely considered the world’s best player, AlphaGo has cemented its reputation.

Two further games against Jie will take place on Thursday and Saturday before the ultimate victor is crowned.

AlphaGo will also face other top-ranked Chinese players at the five-day event.