Google’s Go Computer Steps Up In Competition


Google’s Go-playing software is to take on one of the world’s best players. The match, to be shown live on YouTube, follows the software beating a professional player for the first time.

The software, dubbed AlphaGo, is to take on Lee Sedol. Although the game doesn’t have a single undisputed world championship, Sedol is often cited as the world’s best player both by attempts to create objective rankings based on competitive performances and by subjective reputation.

The clash will be a best of five series with games on the 9th, 10th, 12th, 13th and 15th of March in Seoul, with a $1 million prize at stake. (What AlphaGo would do with a million dollars is as much a mystery as what a computer would do with a year’s supply of Wonka bars.)

It comes after AlphaGo beat European player Fan Hui five games to nil last month. While Google claimed that as the first AI victory over a pro player, Sedol is considered a far better player than Hui.

As we’ve previously noted, Go is much more of a challenge for computer players than chess. It involves players placing colored stones in an attempt to capture opposing stones by surrounding them. That creates far more possible moves on each turn, drastically increasing the options and sequences that a player has to compare and select from — something that can highlight the weakness of computers in usually processing data serially rather than in parallel.