This week, China is hosting one of the most anticipated conferences on artificial intelligence (AI). The historical Chinese town of Wuzhen is the setting Google chose for its Future of Go Conference, which features their Go-playing AI, AlphaGo, as well as China's best Go players and a number of leading AI experts.
Over the course of five days, the conference will showcase a number of matches between AlphaGo and the top human players of this ancient Chinese board game. However, Google's AI has already taken the lead, winning the first of three games against 19-year-old Chinese prodigy and 9th-dan player Ke Jie.
“I think everyone recognizes that Ke Jie is the strongest human player,” Michael Redmond, 9th-dan professional and commentator, told reporters before the game started. Nevertheless, AlphaGo won Tuesday's match, although only by half a point. "Huge respect to Ke Jie for playing such a great game and pushing AlphaGo to its limits,” Demis Hassabis, DeepMind co-founder and CEO, said at a post-match press conference.
During the remaining days of the conference, AlphaGo and Ke Jie are scheduled for a second round on Thursday and a final round on Saturday. Friday will have a match between two human players pitted against each other, both paired with AlphGo, and a team match where five players go against Google's AI.
Google wants to explore the potential of AI to provide solutions for the world's greatest challenges, and AlphaGo is a means for figuring that out. Already, it's created new knowledge about one of the oldest games in the world, even pushing human players to think like it.