The ancient Chinese game of Go has long been seen as a challenge to artificial intelligence. It’s intensely contemplative and almost hypnotic. Playing Go is an experience like none other. It puts you in a place that extends the power of your mental capacity.
Games are convenient because they measure your progress as you play and Go is the simplest yet most complex game ever devised by humans. Some players equate it to real life.
DeepMind is a company with the goal of understanding intelligence to then be able to recreate it. Once they’ve done that, they plan to use that technology to help society solve specific problems.
For years researchers at DeepMind have been studying the game of Go. It’s the holy grail of artificial intelligence. Some people believe that to succeed at Go, human intuition is necessary. When you ask the great Go players why they made a particular move, they often say that it felt right. At DeepMind they believe that if they can crack Go, then they will be making huge progress in artificial intelligence.
Go is the world’s oldest continuously played board game. It’s one of the simplest too because there’s only one type of piece and one type of move. The goal is to create a linked group of your stones that surrounds empty territory. When you surround the enemy stones you capture them and remove them from the board. You earn points by surrounding territory, and at the end of the game, the person with the most territory wins.
It seems simple enough, but once you sit down to play you realize that even though you have the knowledge of what you’re allowed to do, that does not guarantee that you actually know what to do. Go is very challenging for computers because the number of possible moves in a position is about 200, whereas in a game of chess it’s only 20. And the number of possible configurations on the board is more than the number of atoms in the universe.
The European Go Champion was then invited to DeepMind to play Go against AlphaGo. He was sure that he would win the game because he was playing against a program. After losing five matches, he lost confidence in himself briefly but was very proud to have made history.
AI researchers solved the game sooner than expected. Find out more now.