Sat, Jan 07, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Google’s AlphaGo beats masters at their game again

By Chen Cheng-chien, Cheng Wei-chih and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Aja Huang, left, from Google’s DeepMind Technologies, helps AlphaGo to move pieces during a match with South Korean player Lee Sedol, right, in Seoul in March last year.

Photo: AP

DeepMind Technologies’ AlphaGo was the brains behind the go player that won 60 consecutive games in one week in online battles against the world’s top-ranked players, Taiwanese developer Aja Huang (黃士傑) of the Google unit confirmed on Wednesday.

Using the pseudonym “Master,” AlphaGo played its first online game on Dec. 29 and defeated some of the world’s top players, including China’s Ke Jie (柯潔) — ranked the world’s No. 1 in the Whole History Rating system — Nie Weiping (聶衛平) and Chen Yaoye (陳耀燁); Japan’s Yuta Iyama; and South Korea’s Park Junghwan and Cho Hanseung.

Before DeepMind’s revelation, Master’s unconventional strategy, fast reaction and seemingly improbable winning streak had led to speculation that the player was not human.

Yu Bin (俞斌), head coach of China’s national go team, told Xinhua news agency that no human player could make a move almost every five seconds.

“It is highly possible that it is the latest version of an AI [artificial intelligence] player,” he was quoted as saying.

After claiming its 59th win on Wednesday, Master wrote a message on the platform that read: “I am AlphaGo’s Dr Huang.”

“We’ve been hard at work improving AlphaGo, and over the past few days we’ve played some unofficial online games at fast time controls with our new prototype version, to check that it’s working as well as we hoped. We thank everyone who played our accounts Magister (P) and Master (P) on the Tygem and FoxGo servers,” DeepMind cofounder and chief executive Demis Hassabis tweeted on Wednesday.

Huang, a professor of computer science at National Taiwan Normal University, was in 2012 employed by the London-based company that was later acquired by Google, and played a key role in AlphaGo’s development team.

According to the Chinese online media outlet The Observer, Master initially registered as a South Korean go player, in an apparent homage to the fact that AlphaGo was certified by the South Korean national go academy as a 9th dan player in January last year after defeating Lee Sedol, a South Korean player with a 9th dan rank, in four games.

Chou Chun-hsun (周俊勳), a professional and the first Taiwanese to play against Master, said he was routed in little more than 40 minutes and had to concede the game.

“Master’s strategy defied conventional rules of playing the game, and I knew then that what made those moves was not human. Though the game was a crushing loss, I had a lot of fun losing and I learned some very interesting things from it. I look forward to playing it again,” he added.

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