This week, human and machine will go head-to-head in a battle to end battles of the board game Go.
Entering the ring for humanity is Lee Se-dol, a 33-year-old South Koreanwho is the current world champion of the ancient Asian board game. In the corner for machines is AlphaGo, an artificial intelligence programdesigned by Google subsidiary DeepMind.
There will be five matches in total, all of which Deepmind will live streamon YouTube straight from Seoul, South Korea. The matches will be broadcasted at 1 p.m.localtime in Seoul(4 a.m. GMT, 11 p.m. EST the day before, 8 p.m. PST) on March 9th, 10th, 12th, 13th and 15th. Each game can take around fourto fivehours to complete.
The live stream is above.
While DeepMind may seem confident by broadcasting the match-up,Se-dol appears to be equally self-assured. In a press conference, he said: I dont think it will be a very close match. I believe it will be 5-0 [to me], or maybe 4-1. So the critical point for me will be to not lose one match, The Guardian reports.
In October last year, AlphaGo managed to defeat the three-time European champion of Go, Fan Hui, at the game 5-0. This breakthrough, which made it onto the cover of the scientific journal Nature, was the first instance of a computer programdefeating a professional Go player,heralding a new era of artificial intelligence.
Go has been played in Asia for thousands of years, and even todayhas over 40 million players worldwide. The game takes place on a 19-by-19 grid, andtwo players move black or white stones on the board in an attempttoconquer as much territory as possible by surrounding their opponents stones.
But whats the big deal about a computer beating a human at a gameespecially since your Windows 95 could give you a run for your money at chess?For years, Go has been considered a grand challenge for artificial intelligence to beat. The hurdle for AI used to be the game ofchess, until IBM’s computer Deep Blue beat GrandmasterGarry Kasparov in February 1996.However, compared to chess, Go contains a ludicrous amount of possible positions and patterns. In fact,the number ofpossible configerations on a Goboard is more than the amount of atoms in the known universe.As such, its extremely difficult to play with a methodical chess Grandmaster-style technique, and instead requires some sense of “human intuition.”
For more information on the rules of Go, head over toDeepMind’s website.