Chinese Go genius: AlphaGo won’t be able to beat me, at least not yet

The competition between Google’s AlphaGo computer program and World Go champion Lee Sedol has been getting a lot of attention in the past week. So far, in the five-game match, AlphaGo has already won the first three, achieving a striking score of 3:0.
 While the public is buzzing about what the future of AI and humans will look like, Ke Jie, the Chinese Go genius who defeated Lee Sedol in the second MLily Cup in January 2016, claims that AlphaGo will not be able to defeat him just yet.

Voice of the Chinese Go circle

China has a leading position in the world of Go, occupying top positions on global ranks. Thus, the competition between Lee and AlphaGo also provoked a discussion among Chinese chess players.

Two days before the competition, Nie Weiping, famous nine-dan master in the Go circle who led China to the victory in the China-Japan Supermatches, showed his contempt of AlphaGo, saying: ”millions of moves are possible on a big Go board and when faced with such a complicated situation, computers cannot judge which move is favorable to itself, but humans can do that.”

“I am confident that humans will be able to conquer machines in the Go competition,” Nie added when Chinese media outlet Sohu interviewed him.

However, this was apparently an underestimation of AI. And Nie wasn’t alone.

Before the match, Gu Li, who also defeated Lee Sedol in the 15th Samsung Cup in 2010, said that AlphaGo was at the primary stage of a professional Go player, according to its performance in the triumph over European champion Fan Hui, and it won’t be able to defeat the nine-dan pro Lee Sedol.

But what they may have neglected is that AlphaGo’s competition with Fan happened five months ago, and AI develops at a different pace compared to humans. If the judgment of these professional chess players were accurate five months ago, it may suggest how much AlphaGo has advanced since then.

Go genius to defend the dignity of professional chess players?

On Sina Weibo, Ke Jie said that he would like to challenge AlphaGo and is confident that he would have a 60 percent chance of winning.

“Even AlphaGo defeats Lee Sedol in the end, it cannot beat me!” Ke said on his Weibo account.

Born in 1997, Ke won his first world championship in 2014 when he was only 17 years old. The victory over Lee in January 2016 brought him his third world champion title and also made him the only active player with three world champion titles right now.

“For a Go player, once he makes a wrong move, a series of other wrong moves will happen. But seldom does a computer do this. In most competitions, when up against a comparable player, Lee Sedol usually won by turning back the unfavorable situation in the second half. This method doesn’t work on AlphaGo.”

But even for Ke, AlphaGo wouldn’t be an easy competitor. Ke also expressed concerns about his ability to defeat AlphaGo several months or years later.

“AlphaGo’s playing style is similar to mine, but its computing power is getting stronger. Sooner or later I will be conquered,” Ke said.


Originally published at www.allchinatech.com on March 12, 2016.