Human vs machine Go showdown kicks off in Seoul

  • TECH
  • Wednesday, 09 Mar 2016

epa05202172 A handout picture made available by Google shows South Korean Go grandmaster Lee Se-dol (R) making the first move in his highly anticipated showdown with the Google-developed supercomputer AlphaGo at a hotel in downtown Seoul, South Korea, 09 March 2016. EPA/GOOGLE -- BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE -- SOUTH KOREA OUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

SEOUL: A 3,000-year old Chinese board game was the focus of a very 21st century showdown as South Korean Go grandmaster Lee Se-Dol kicked off his highly anticipated clash with the Google-developed supercomputer, AlphaGo. 

Experts were reluctant to tip a winner between Lee, one of the greatest Go players of the modern era who has topped the world ranking for most of the past decade, and the computer, which has already crushed European champion Fan Hui in a 5-0 whitewash. 

AlphaGo’s creators say the computer, which employs algorithms that allow it to learn and improve from matchplay experience, is even stronger now than when it took on Fan last October. 

The five-day battle for supremacy between man and machine is being seen as a major test of what scientists and engineers have achieved in the sphere of Artificial Intelligence (AI) over the past 10 years or so. 

The most famous AI victory to date came in 1997, when the IBM-developed supercomputer Deep Blue beat the then-world class chess champion Garry Kasparov. 

But experts say Go presents an entirely different challenge as the complexity of the game and incomputable number of move options mean that the computer must be capable of human-like “intuition” to prevail. 

When Lee first accepted the AI challenge, he had confidently predicted a clear-cut win, saying that AlphaGo’s performance against Fan had been nowhere near good enough to defeat him. 

But the grandmaster was less bullish at a press conference in Seoul on March 8, where he confessed to some pre-match nerves. 

“Now I think I may not beat AlphaGo by such a large margin like 5-0. It’s only right that I’m a little nervous about the match,” he said. 

Go reputedly has more possible board configurations than there are atoms in the Universe, and mastery of the game by a computer was thought to be at least a decade away until the victory over Fan. 

“At the beginning of the match, I never imagined I could lose,” Fan told AFP ahead of the showdown in Seoul. 

AlphaGo uses two sets of “deep neural networks” containing millions of connections similar to neurons in the brain. 

It is able to predict a winner from each move, thus reducing the search base to manageable levels – something co-creator David Silver has described as “more akin to imagination”. 

The match at the Four Seasons hotel in the South Korean capital promises a US$1mil (RM4.13mil) payout for the winner. — AFP

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 1
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3

Next In Tech News

AI-powered Mayflower, beset with glitch, returns to England
Pressure on Pornhub grows after 34 women sue
As Cyberpunk reboots, can unloved games win an extra life?
After user exodus, WhatsApp promises new privacy features
Rear view cameras - giving your car eyes in the back of its head
Former U.S. Ambassador throws support behind embattled Toshiba board chair
Qualcomm unveils new chips to power smart shopping carts, remote work
Ceiling-mounted Covid 'alarm' warns if someone in a room is infected
Just joined Twitter? Stay focussed, encourage debate and other tips
Bitcoin falls 7% to $35,431.15

Stories You'll Enjoy