Google's Artificial Intelligence Software Wins Go Contest

 

A computer program built by Google has defeated one of the best players in the world in the Chinese board game Go.  The South Korean Go champion Lee Se-dol lost his game to a computer program that is based on Google's Deepmind , its artificial intelligence software. The match between a human and a computer was a test to find out where technology stands on artificial intelligence.

Go is an ancient game that was first played in China thousands of years ago. It is about placing black and white stones on a square board . The aim is to surround your opponent and control the board.  Go is considered to be much more complex than chessWhereas in chess there are 20 possible moves a player can make, there are over 200 in Go. According to one game expert, a Go board has more possible configurations than there are atoms in the universe.

In contrast to chess, Go is played more with intuition than with brutal calculation. That is why a computer has, up to now , never been able to play as well as a human. However, the first victory for the artificial intelligence software  came in 2015, when AlphaGo, as Google's program is called,  defeated the European Go champion in five straight games.

20 years ago computers, for the first time, beat humans at chess.  In 1997 IBM's Deep  Blue won against world chess champion Gary Kasparov.

 

Google researchers spent two years creating AlphaGo in a lab in London. They claim that the program learns the game by itself and becomes better as time goes on. But even they were surprised when the software defeated the world's number one. They thought that it would take at least ten more years before any form of artificial intelligence could be better than a human.

At a press conference Lee Se-dol said that he never thought he would lose . He was impressed at how well the computer played the game.

 

Chinese board game Go

The Chinese board game Go - Image: Chad Miller

 

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Words

  • according to = as said by ...
  • aim = what you want to do
  • ancient = very old
  • beat = to win against
  • board = flat piece of wood with a pattern on it, used for playing games
  • artificial intelligence = when a machine has some of the same qualities a person has, like the ability to learn a language or solve problems
  • calculation = here: careful planning of a situation
  • champion = here: the best player in a country or in the world
  • chess = game played on a board; you can move 16 pieces in different ways
  • claim = to say that something is true
  • complex = difficult
  • configuration = here: layout of the board
  • considered = thought
  • defeat = to win against
  • however = but
  • impressed = to admire and respect something
  • in contrast to = compared with
  • intuition = to do something based on your feelings, not on facts
  • move = to change the position of a piece on the board
  • opponent = the person you play against
  • place = put
  • researcher = person who studies a topic carefully and tries to find out more about it
  • straight games = without a break; one after the other
  • surround = to be around something
  • technology = new machines and new ways of doing things
  • victory = win
  • whereas = compared with