Google's AI will take on the world's top Go player next month

19-year-old Ke Jie takes on AlphaGo in a best of three match in May.


It's been a busy year for Google Deepmind. You might remember AlphaGo resoundingly beating Go grandmaster Lee Sedol by four games to one and secretly schooling some of the world's best Go players online, but the team has also found time to help Britain's national health service treat patients and arm its computer with new tricks to help it learn faster and "remember" previous knowledge.

AlphaGo can now justifiably be considered one of the world's best Go players, but the Deepmind team can't make a bonafide claim until its AI has beaten the world number one: 19-year-old Chinese player Ke Jie. Deepmind co-founder and CEO Demis Hassabis has now confirmed that after months of speculation, the match is on.

At the Future of Go Summit between May 23rd to May 27th, Google and the China Go Association (with help from the Chinese government) will bring together AlphaGo and some of the world's best Go players and AI experts to "explore the mysteries" of the ancient board game.

There will be a variety of games on offer including Pair Go, where Chinese professionals will face off against each other but alternate moves with an AlphaGo teammate. The Team Go match, on the other hand, will see AlphaGo battle a five-player team of Chinese pros in a bid to test "creativity and adaptability." Ke Jie vs AlphaGo will, of course, be the main focus. It'll be a best of three match that Deepmind hopes will push AlphaGo to its absolute limit.

The event makes for an interesting spectacle, especially considering Ke once said he didn't want to sit down with AlphaGo because it would learn his playing style. However, when Deepmind convincingly beat Lee Sedol, the 9th dan professional quickly changed his tune.

"Instead of diminishing the game, as some feared, artificial intelligence (A.I.) has actually made human players stronger and more creative," said Hassabis. "It's humbling to see how pros and amateurs alike, who have pored over every detail of AlphaGo's innovative game play, have actually learned new knowledge and strategies about perhaps the most studied and contemplated game in history."