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Google’s AlphaGo now on the Go

Following last week’s I/O conference, where Google reaffirmed its position as an artificial intelligence company, the internet giant is once again drawing a spotlight on its AI-capability with AlphaGo now competing against 19-year-old world champion Ke Jie.

The three-game Go match, currently being live-streamed on the Google-owned British AI developer DeepMind’s YouTube channel, is held in Wuzhen, China, as part of Google’s Future of Go Summit. The winner will receive RMB 10 million in prize money, while Ke Jie will lose his title as the world’s top ranked master if he loses the games.

Aside from three games against Ke Jie, Google’s AlphaGo will also be paired with Gu Li in the game against Lian Xiao, who will also team up with AlphaGo in a double match. The event will also host a series of panels from Google’s artificial intelligence and machine learning luminaries.

The matches comes a year after AlphaGo scored a momentous 4-1 victory over Lee Se-dol, world number 2 in the complex and ancient Chinese board game. During last year’s game, DeepMind’s founder and CEO Demis Hassabis explained that Go is played on a large board with an exponentially larger number of permutations.

While IBM’s DeepBlue beat chess grand master Kasparov some 20 years ago using the ‘brute force’ technique – essentially calculating all possible outcomes – AlphaGo has a much harder challenge. Go has more possible outcomes than there are atoms in the universe, making it almost possible for the computer to ‘brute force’ its way to victory. It will, instead have to rely on strategy and decision-making.

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