Man vs. machine: Google’s AlphaGo will battle humanity’s best Go player


Google’s DeepMind AI project silenced many critics earlier this year when its AlphaGo program dominated Lee Sedol in a five-game Go series. Now, the program has booked its follow-up bout.

The power of DeepMind will test its mettle against humanity’s current number one Go player, China’s Ke Jie. The series is expected to take place before the end of 2016.

Many were surprised when AlphaGo managed to upset Lee in March, as it’s generally agreed upon that the grandmaster is among the very best Go players ever. However, he was only ranked fourth in the world at the time of his series with the DeepMind team’s computer player.

On the other hand, Ke tops the rankings by Elo score, and has held that position for a couple of years now. The child prodigy bragged “AlphaGo is weaker than me” following the first match between the program and Lee, and stated that he had no interest in taking on the computer, according to a report from Ars Technica.

However, since then Ke has revised his estimations of AlphaGo’s play, admitting recently that he would likely surrender at least one game to the program if put under the same conditions as Lee. Despite this, the player has committed to a series.

While the victory over Lee was a watershed moment for AlphaGo and DeepMind, Ke offers up an even greater test. If the program can vanquish the Go player currently considered to be humanity’s best, machines will unquestionably be able to claim bragging rights over us humans — even if it was us that created them, as well as the game.

There are currently no details as to where the series will be held, but the contest is expected to take place before the end of the year. However, both sides are reportedly very interested in making the bout happen, so we could see things come together sooner rather than later.