Facebook continues its efforts to create artificial intelligence capable of outclassing all humans at the ancient Chinese strategy board game Go. The social media company recently published a research paper showcasing the progress it made with the DarkForest bots, which use a synergy of methods to be the best Go players available. Yuandong Tian and Yan Zhu, AI researchers at Facebook, explain how the computer program behaves in the abstract of the paper. "Against human players, [darkfores2 achieves] a stable 3d level on KGS Go Server as a ranked bot," the duo points out [pdf]. This is a visible improvement over the predicted 4k-5k ranks for DCNN that Clark & Storkey (2015) reported after studying matches against other machine players.
AlphaGo, a largely self-taught Go-playing AI, last night won the fifth and final game in a match held in Seoul, South Korea, against that country's Lee Sedol. Sedol is one of the greatest modern players of the ancient Chinese game. The final score was 4 games to 1. Thus falls the last and computationally hardest game that programmers have taken as a test of machine intelligence. Chess, AI's original touchstone, fell to the machines 19 years ago, but Go had been expected to last for many years to come. The sweeping victory means far more than the US 1 million prize, which Google's London-based acquisition, DeepMind, says it will give to charity.
In March of last year, Google's (Menlo Park, California) artificial intelligence (AI) computer program AlphaGo beat the best Go player in the world, 18-time champion Lee Se-dol, in a tournament, winning 4 of 5 games.1 At first glance this news would seem of little interest to a pathologist, or to anyone else for that matter. After all, many will remember that IBM's (Armonk, New York) computer program Deep Blue beat Garry Kasparov--at the time the greatest chess player in the world--and that was 19 years ago. The rules of the several-thousand-year-old game of Go are extremely simple. The board consists of 19 horizontal and 19 vertical black lines.
In conjunction with the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence's Hall of Champions exhibit, the Innovative Applications of Artificial Intelligence held a panel discussion entitled "AI Game-Playing Techniques: Are They Useful for Anything Other Than Games?" This article summarizes the panelists' comments about whether ideas and techniques from AI game playing are useful elsewhere and what kinds of game might be suitable as "challenge problems" for future research.
South Korean Go players will be banned from using smartphones during official tournaments in the future, and it's all thanks to Google's AlphaGo AI. The Korea Times reports that the Korea Baduk Association -- baduk being the local name for Go -- is currently drafting new rules that will outlaw smartphone use in matches. While the organization is fully aware you can't carry AlphaGo around in your pocket at the moment, it's preempting a time when certain AI tools that can give players a competitive edge do become available on smartphones. It may seem strange that smartphone use is permitted in official Go competitions as it stands, but then there's basically no precedent for digital tools being of any help to experienced players. Though IBM's Deep Blue chess computer beat world champ Garry Kasparov in 1997, the number of variables and strategic complexity of Go have kept programmers from creating bots that exhibit anything more than an amateur skill level.