Earlier this year, Google’s DeepMind hopped a massive artificial intelligence hurdle when it ousted Lee Sedol, a 9-dan Go player. This was significant because Go has long been upheld as a distinctly human game. There are far more possible games that can be played on a 19×19 Go board than there are atoms in the known universe, and this has proven to be a particular challenge for non-human competitors. For years, even a mid-range Go player could trample the most sophisticated Go-playing programs, so AlphaGo’s victory was a pretty big deal. However, although Lee Sedol is a grandmaster, he is not the world’s top Go player.
No, the honor of that title goes to 18-year-year-old Chinese wunderkind Ke Jie. Prior to AlphaGo’s victory over Lee Sedol, Ke stated that he had no interest in going toe-to-toe with the digital demolisher. By observing the AI’s playstyle, Ke said that he felt confident that he was better than the artificial intelligence. “I don’t want to play against AlphaGo because I can tell from its performance that it is weaker than me,” he said. “I don’t want it to copy my patterns and learn from me.”
Now Ke is changing his tune. When 33-year-old Lee was defeated in a three-and-a-half-hour slugfest, it piqued Ke’s competitive nature. He claims that, although he underestimated the AI, he still believes he can take it down. It has been reported that a spokesman for the Chinese Go Association revealed at the 37th annual World Amature Go Championship this past weekend that AlphaGo would be setting up a match with Ke before the end of the year. DeepMind co-founder Demis Hassabis has since tweeted that the match isn’t set in stone just yet, but it’s possible that we might have a true man against machine showdown coming for 2016.
What are your thoughts regarding Google’s AI going up against the world’s leading Go player? Let us know in the comments below.