Secret identity of Go 'master' revealed

Secret identity of Go 'master' revealed
The black and white stones used in weiqi.
PHOTO: The New Paper

The mysterious "master" that has scored 60 straight victories against elite Go players online, including China's top player Ke Jie, is the latest version of computer programme AlphaGo, its development team confirmed late Wednesday.

"I'm AlphaGo's AJa Huang," "Master" released its real identity before the game with China's elite Go player Gu Li on Wednesday. And the artificial intelligence programme beat Gu to get its 60th crown.

AlphaGo is a computer programme developed by Google DeepMind in London to play the board game Go. It has become well-known after its victory over South Korea's top Go player Lee Sedol in March last year.

During the game against Lee, DeepMind's lead programmer Aja Huang, put the stones on board instead of AlphaGo.

DeepMind said that "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're excited by the results and also by what we and the Go community can learn from some of the innovative and successful moves played by the new version of AlphaGo," DeepMind said.

Demis Hassabis, the father of AlphaGo, said that after the unofficial faceoffs, the team will arrange some official matches this year.

In December, Google's top executives paid a visit to the headquarters of the Chinese Go Association and met with some of the board game's best players in China.

"Master" registered on Chinese online board game platforms and on Dec 29, and in the following week, it defeated elite Go players, including South Korea's Park Jung-hwan, Japan's Iyama Yuta and China's Ke Jie, in the fast-paced online matches.

Earlier, some have speculated that "Master" might be a computer programme after the consecutive victories.

Yu Bin, head coach of China's national Go team, said "we can rule out the possibility that 'Master' is controlled by a person," because of its invincible patterns and speed in taking a move almost every five seconds.

After the Wednesday game, Gu said that "Regardless of victory or defeat, human and the artificial intelligence will explore the board game together; a new revolution of the game is underway…"

Originating in ancient China, Go is a game where two players take turns placing black and white stones on a 19-by-19 grid. Players win by taking control of the most territory on the board, achieved by surrounding opponent's pieces with their own.

The fast-paced format adopted online requires each of the contenders to make at least three moves every 20 seconds.

Read also: Unknown master beats top Go players

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