Google is challenging the “Roger Federer of Go”, South Korea’s Lee Sedol, to push the limits of a new artificially intelligent machine it has created called AlphaGo.
The research – and a subsequently released video – showed the machine beat “three-time European Go champion Fan Hui … by 5 games to 0” in a closed-door tournament late last year.
Though computers have cracked other games by beating elite players– including chess and Jeopardy – the Chinese game of Go had remained elusive.
One reason for that, according to DeepMind’s CEO Demis Hassabis, is the complexity of Go compared to other games.
“In chess the number of possible moves is about 20 for the average position. In Go it’s about 200,” Hassabis said.
“Another way of viewing the complexity of Go is that the number of possible configurations of the board is more than the number of atoms in the universe.”
It’s not just the number of combinations that a computer-based opponent would need to process.
“If you ask a great Go player why they played a particular move, sometimes they’ll tell you it just felt right,” Hassabis said.
“So one way you could think of it is Go is a much more intuitive game whereas chess is a much more logic based game.”