Google's DeepMind has comprehensively beaten a human champion playing Go, the board game which has been dubbed the world’s most complex achieving “a historic milestone in artificial intelligence”. This means that similar techniques can now be applied to other AI domains that require recognition of complex patterns, long-term planning and decision-making.
The best human players of chess, draughts and backgammon have all been outplayed by computers. But a hefty handicap was needed for computers to win at Go. Now Google’s London-based AI company, DeepMind, claims that its machine has mastered the game. Go players react to computer defeat DeepMind’s program AlphaGo beat Fan Hui, the European Go champion, five times out of five in tournament conditions, the firm reveals in research published in Nature on 27 January1. It also defeated its silicon-based rivals, winning 99.8% of games against the current best programs. The program has yet to play the Go equivalent of a world champion, but a match against South Korean professional Lee Sedol, considered by many to be the world’s strongest player, is scheduled for March. “We’re pretty confident,” says DeepMind co-founder Demis Hassabis.