Ready, steady….GO​

Last updated 9 months ago

We are going to talk about Artificial Intelligence and how a game, the Go, was the perfect excuse to achieve its improvement.

Ready, steady….GO​

We've all heard this sequence of screams before the start of the speed races....well, today we're not going to talk about athletics, we're going to talk about Artificial Intelligence and how a game, Go, was the perfect excuse to achieve its advancement.

Many of you may not know this board game ancestor. According to Wikipedia, GO is a strategy game that emerged in China more than 2500 years ago, where it was considered one of the four essential arts of its culture. The rules of this game are very simple, each player has to surround his opponent's stones with his stones, whoever manages to build a bigger area dominated by his stones wins.

By zizou man - Flickr: Go game, CC BY 2.0,

Mastering this game is very complicated because when deciding where to place a stone you have to take into account many things, they are not purely mathematical, intuition plays a fundamental role in this game, something that was impossible to achieve by the machines... until now.

In 2015 the British company Google DeepMind created AlphaGo, an artificial intelligence software program that plays GO. Never in history was a machine capable of defeating the human mind in this game, because as we said, it is not only important to calculate the best place to place the stones to cover the rival's stones, intuition plays a fundamental role.

However, the creators of AlphaGo thought that their program would be capable of beating the human mind and to prove it they challenged Fan Hui, the best European Go player, the machine won without problems.

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Such was the scandal that the defenders of human superiority over the machines took away the value of that victory, saying that Fan Hui was not an elite player. Then, the creators of AlphaGo challenged Lee Sedol, today's best Go player. Lee accepted the challenge with the hope of winning the AlphaGo without any problems...the result of this challenge was AlphaGo 4 - Lee Sedol 1. The only game that Lee Sedol won was because of what was called the "divine movement", a totally unexpected movement and which, according to AlphaGo's calculations, there was only 1 in a million chance that a human would make it...this shows that in that field, in the field of improvisation, humans are better than machines.

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If you want to try playing Go there are many computer programs that are available in the official repositories, I have personally installed qGo.