Google AI wins Go challenge

Posted: 16 March 2016
Author: Mark Hurren

“People worry that computers will get too smart and take over the world, but the real problem is that they’re too stupid and they’ve already taken over the world.”

– Pedro Domingos, University of Washington

Artificial Intelligence has taken a huge leap forward this week, as Google’s DeepMind artificial intelligence has secured its fourth win over one of the world’s top Go players.

Lee Sedol missed out on the $1m prize, which would’ve been his if he could’ve beaten Google’s AlphaGo. After losing the second of five games, Lee Sedol said he was “speechless” and that the AlphaGo had played a near-perfect game.
For those not in the know, Go is a game in which players take turns placing stones on a 19-by-19 grid with the goal of controlling most of the territory. Many consider the game to be much more challenging than chess, particularly for a computer. The game, which originated in China, is thought to date back several thousand years.

The AlphaGo system was developed by British computer company, DeepMind, which was bought by Google in 2014. Its expertise in Go has been built by studying older games as well as trying out multiple patterns of play.

What does this mean for Artificial Intelligence?

Whilst the achievement of this particular AI is fairly trivial in the grand scheme of things, it does reflect how far the concept has come in terms of ambition and execution. Many of the machine learning technologies on display here are already being used in everyday Google applications, which gives a window into how widespread Artificial Intelligence is.

Let’s be clear though, this isn’t a sign that your laptop is about to grow legs and usurp you in the workplace and at home; your mobile phone isn’t about to take revenge for that smashed screen. As AI expert, Dr Noel Sharkey, put it, “Does this mean AI is now smarter than us and will kill us mere humans? Certainly not. AlphaGo doesn’t care if it wins or loses. It doesn’t even care if it plays and it certainly couldn’t make you a cup of tea after the game.”

Rather than worrying about Judgment Day, perhaps the thing to consider is how AI might actually help us in our day-to-day lives?

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