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Google's AlphaGo now on the Go

Google's AlphaGo now on the Go

This week's match-up in the eastern Chinese city of Wuzhen, between Ke and an updated version of AlphaGo, has been highly anticipated amid speculation about whether AI could beat the world's top player.

Jie and Go are only one game through a three-game match this week, but the first game was a pretty big sign that not only is AlphaGo a skillful player, it is learning how to improve in ways that transcend human intelligence. This is also why experts thought having an AI win at Go was going to take at least another decade, before AlphaGo was created. During the competition, Ke looked as if he was feeling a mounting pressure, with strong expressions and fidgeting, when pondering his next moves against AlphaGo.

Ke and AlphaGo will face off again on Thursday and Saturday. Google said a broadcast of Lee's 2016 match with AlphaGo was watched by an estimated 280 million people.

According to the founder of Goolge-owned DeepMind, Demis Hassabis, it was a close run match though. It didn't aim to trounce Ke Jie, but simply to beat him by whatever means. Last year, it defeated South Korea's Lee Sedol.

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AlphaGo made headlines a year ago after winning a five-match tournament against Lee Sedol, considered the world's best player of Go over the past decade. Yet, the little toddler program developed by Google's artificial intelligence arm, Deep Mind, barely even three years old, has now managed to take down not one, not two, but three different champions.

For some, rapid advances in AI conjure sci-fi images of a "Terminator" future in which machines "wake up" and enslave humanity. "There are 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 possible positions - that's more than the number of atoms in the universe, and more than a googol times larger than chess". In the pair Go match, Chinese Go player Gu Li will compete with the other player Lian Xiao on May 26, with each pairing up with his AlphaGo teammate.

Ke Jie opened the game by using unconventional moves that had actually been pioneered by AlphaGo itself in previous matches, and while the AI managed to maintain a significant lead for most of the game, the match concluded with the AI winning by only a half-point. The game can't be found on numerous most-watched streaming services in China, such as Tencent Video and Sina.com. The program played numerous world's top players under the pseudonym "Master" in online matches earlier this year, according to the magazine, and its unorthodox playing style affected Ke's.

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