Human champion describes defeat to ‘Go god’ AI as a ‘horrible experience’

23 May 2017

Image: kc look/Shutterstock

Another human Go player has been left dejected by a defeat at the hands of Google’s AlphaGo AI, describing the program as the new ‘Go god’.

Last year, Google’s AlphaGo artificial intelligence (AI) achieved a milestone in the development of thinking machines with the defeat of the grandmaster of Go, a board game considered to be many times more complex than chess.

Prior to the defeat of Lee Sedol, it was believed by experts – and even AlphaGo’s own creators – that this advancement was 10 years away.

However, once again, the AI Go master has bested the best – Ke Jie, a 19-year-old from China – to become the world number one.

According to The Guardian, in the build-up to this match, Ke was confident that he would never lose to a computer. He has since described his defeat as a “horrible experience”.

Ke is viewed as the prodigy of the ancient board game, and went professional at the tender age of 11. He has not held back with his criticism of Go-playing computers, labelling AlphaGo as nothing more than a “cold machine”.

Now, however, he admits that the AI is a true genius at the game, going so far as to say: “I feel like his game is more and more like the ‘Go god’. Really, it is brilliant.”

‘Either way, humanity wins’

There is still time for Ke to claim an overall victory, though, with two more games scheduled to take place.

While he has vowed to be crowned the winner, this is not the first time that Ke has been beaten by Google’s creation.

Earlier this year, he and other Chinese online Go players were defeated at the hands of an anonymous contestant that was later revealed as the latest version of AlphaGo.

As the AI cannot be gracious or convey any sense of emotion following its win, DeepMind founder Demis Hassabis tried to ease any fears of possible disrepute with the game, or humanity as a whole.

“This isn’t about man competing with machines, but rather using them as tools to explore and discover new knowledge together,” he said.

“Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether AlphaGo wins or loses … either way, humanity wins.”

Updated, 2.45pm, 24 May 2017: This article was updated to clarify that Ke Jie is Chinese, not South Korean.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic